State budget cuts will force Philadelphia’s schools to lay off 3,820 employees – including 12% of the district’s teacher – to close a gaping budget shortfall next year, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The Philadelphia School District – which has about 155,000 students – faces a $292 million loss in state aid next year, the result of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed $1.1 billion cut in the state’s education budget.
The loss in state aid is compounded by a weak economy, declining city revenues, and the loss of federal stimulus money. Philadelphia school officials project the district’s revenues will drop by 12% – or $377 million. Now, dramatic cuts are needed to close a $629 million hole in the district’s $2.7 billion school budget.
School financial officers said Wednesday that they plan to eliminate 1,260 teaching positions and lay off hundreds of guidance counselors, administrators and school police officers. Other cuts include slashing the school transportation budget by nearly half and dramatically scaling back gifted and vocational education programs. Class sizes will go up and individual schools will have about 30% less cash on hand.
Parents and teachers are understandably worried that that the cuts will reverse the progress the district has made over the past decade.