Five things to know about the Philly School District’s decision to open schools on time

 Superintendent Hite says schools will open on time but with another round of 'hopefully temporary' cuts aimed at narrowing a large budget gap. At Friday's announcement were, from left: Deputy Paul Kihn, Hite, SRC members Bill Green, Farah Jimenez, Marjorie Neff, and Sylvia Simms (Kevin McCorry/WHYY)

Superintendent Hite says schools will open on time but with another round of 'hopefully temporary' cuts aimed at narrowing a large budget gap. At Friday's announcement were, from left: Deputy Paul Kihn, Hite, SRC members Bill Green, Farah Jimenez, Marjorie Neff, and Sylvia Simms (Kevin McCorry/WHYY)

Here are five key points about the District’s latest plan for dealing with its budget gap.

Flanked by four members of the School Reform Commission, Superintendent William Hite announced Friday morning that Philadelphia schools would open on time Sept. 8, but that another round of “difficult and hopefully temporary” cuts would be made to narrow the District’s $81 million deficit.

Here are five key points about the District’s latest plan for dealing with its budget gap.

1. Temporary cuts and budget adjustments totaling $32 million were announced. These include discontinuing Transpasses for 7,500 students who live less than two miles from school, eliminating 300 slots in alternative programs for students at risk of dropping out, making 27 more elementary schools share police officers, reducing school cleaning and repairs, cutting extra professional development time at the District’s Promise Academies, and eliminating some administrative positions. “These are cuts we want to treat as temporary,” Hite said. “We want to restore them.”

2. The District is still counting on state approval and implementation of a $2-per-pack, Philadelphia-only cigarette tax by October 1, which would generate a projected $49 million in the current fiscal year. In terms of new revenue, Hite said that was the District’s focus at this time.

3. The District is dropping its demands that the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers make wage concessions, but insisting that the union offer benefits concessions to allow for the restoration of cuts. Hite did not put a dollar amount on benefits savings he seeks, but said the District is looking for “substantially more than what’s been offered” by the PFT at the bargaining table. As for the work rule changes the District has been demanding from the PFT, Hite said “these are important to us” but “it’s a process of negotiations.”

4. There are no mass layoffs now; cuts will result in only about 20 layoffs of District staff, mostly in the central office. Additionally, some vacant positions of police officers and others are not being filled. And the $2.2 million in cuts to alternative programs will almost certainly force the outside providers of those programs to lay off teaching staff. Hite said the layoff picture would worsen if the hoped-for cigarette tax revenues and labor savings don’t happen soon. “We will be forced in mid-October to cut into school budgets.”

5. Hite cited multiple reasons for rejecting the much-discussed idea of a delayed opening of schools: Because the District wants to avoid “the loss of classroom time for students;” because many salaries and contracts would have to be paid anyway; and because a delayed opening could cost the District if it caused a new flow of students from District into charter schools. Hite also cited assurances from Gov, Corbett and legislative leaders that the state will approve the cigarette tax.

Click through to The Notebook for further coverage of this developing story.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.