The School District of Philadelphia came under City Council’s microscope during a daylong hearing about its future.
Everyone knows the school district is in fiscal crisis, and School Reform Commission head Pedro Ramos says the SRC is working on a plan to economize.
“We have to provide some predictability on charter costs, we have to reduce our personnel costs,” said Ramos. “We have to in the end align our spending with our tax revenue. It’s no more complicated than that.”
Teachers union head Jerry Jordan says he understands the need to make cuts, but he’s concerned about expenditures, especially raises given to some non-union workers.
“Schools are operating almost with little or no budget and we have schools now and children who go to school everyday without nurses, without librarians, without non teaching assistants to support the climate in the schools,” said Jordan.
Superintendent William Hite says his goal is to improve conditions for all students.
“I know that our city’s long term viability depends on the quality of our schools,” said Hite. “We all want the same things, schools that are safe, educators that are effective, dollars that are well spent and our students and our schools and our families deserve nothing less.”
Much of the testimony focused on a report analyzing the district done by the Boston Consulting Group. Ron Whitehorne of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools says the report doesn’t give students what they need to succeed.
“We’re concerned about democracy, we’re concerned that students, parents and the community have a voice in developing a plan for the schools, which they haven’t had to date,” said Whitehorne.
A school closing plan is expected mid-December and will be followed by public hearings on the choices. A financial plan for the year to come is expected in January.