Philadelphia school district budget gap bigger than expected

While the Philadelphia School District tries to find ways to cut tens of millions of dollars from its budget by June, the problem is getting worse.

School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro Ramos says the budget gap is wider than originally thought.

“The gap on January 19 was about $61 million,” said Ramos.  “Those numbers go up and down some as we get new information everyday.  One of the things that we are seeing is that early retirements are starting to cost more than projected by the district.”

Ramos says about $20 million has already been removed from the budget, giving school officials a $40 million shortfall.  He says city and school district officials are showing unprecedented cooperation to help chip away at the mountain of red ink to balance the budget.

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“It’s a great new thing we are trying here in Philadelphia,” said Ramos.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz has said he might have to issue a warning about the school district’s long-term viability in an annual financial report.  Originally that report was to be issued this week but his office says staff is working on it over the weekend.

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