Philly schools scraping by on opening day

There are some “first day of school” jitters in Philadelphia, but it’s not the usual kind. This opening day, there are far fewer support staffers.

South Philadelphia High School mother Tamara Brown says she worried over how her son will blend into a new high school, after his old one was closed over the summer.

“I’m very concerned about the many students in the class with one teacher, so I am very concerned about the fighting and having him learn and everything like that,” said Brown. “I want him to have good grades and have a good education.”

Mayor Michael Nutter says he understands parents are worried.

“They want to make sure that their child, wherever they are going to school, is going to a good school, a safe school, to a school where there is enthusiasm from the principal on down to the maintenance staff, the teachers, the administrators and everyone else,” said Nutter.

District officials say things aren’t perfect, but they are doing their best.

Between budget-related layoffs and attrition, the Philadelphia schools have about 3,000 fewer employees than in June. From guidance counselors to assistant principals to even teachers, a dire budget has forced Superintendent William Hite to open schools without the staffing he would like. 

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

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal