Philly schools forced to borrow more because of Pa. budget impasse

 District officials don't know yet much the school system will need to borrow or how much the debt service will cost to cover expenses through the calendar year. (NewsWorks file photo)

District officials don't know yet much the school system will need to borrow or how much the debt service will cost to cover expenses through the calendar year. (NewsWorks file photo)

As Pennsylvania’s budget impasse creeps towards its fifth month, the Philadelphia School District will need to borrow additional money to cover payroll beyond October.

In August, the district borrowed $275 million to get through the first two months of school because of the logjam in the state Capitol – a move that will ultimately cost an additional $1 million in debt service.

Now, district officials say, they need to borrow again – as first-year Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and the Republican-held Legislature continue their stalemate.

District spokesman Fernando Gallard said Wednesday he doesn’t yet know how much the school system will need to borrow or how much the debt service will cost to cover expenses through the calendar year.

The details have yet to be worked out.

“You have to find someone who’s willing to lend you the money,” said Gallard. “And you gotta figure out how much they’re willing to lend you, and what are the rates and all the requirements they have.”

The district had hoped to have those details finalized by early this week. It hoped to ratify an agreement at special School Reform Commission meeting Thursday.

That meeting has now been cancelled. Another will be scheduled before month’s end.

The district still needs an additional $18 million in order to maintain last year’s “inadequate” status quo.

Officials assume, though, that the state will ultimately bump up the city’s education funding by at least that much, so no cuts are planned.

Wolf hopes the state budget ultimately includes funds to repay districts for borrowing costs related to the stalled negotiations in Harrisburg.

On Tuesday, Wolf rejected a bid to advance funding to the state’s neediest school districts before a holistic budget agreement is reached.

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