The Doomsday Budget: 2013-2014

(Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer)
Taryn Flaherty, age 10, rallies for fair funding at a press conference at the School District of Philadelphia. (Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer)

Just a few weeks before the start of the school year, Superintendent William Hite testified on “Radio Times” that the resources given to him  will allow Philadelphia to open “functional types of schools”:

“On September 9th, we will expect 134,000 young people to return to schools, and when they return to school, they will find very different schools. Now I don’t want anyone to get me wrong. We will be ready for those young people to return. However, schools will not have the same number of individuals that were there. They will have teachers, they will have access to services . . .  however some of the resources that we typically expect in schools will not be there.”

News has started to leak out about what exactly this means. Consider:

  • Overcrowded and split grade classrooms:  During the Vallas administration, Parents United successfully worked to eliminate split grade classrooms as a matter of policy. Split grades (when two grades are merged in one classroom due to budget cuts) were universally deemed a pedagogical fail. Today, they may be back in schools all across the city since the District is only allotting teachers based on the maximum number of students allowed by the teachers’ union contract.
  • Guidance counselors denied: Schools under 600 students will not have a guidance counselor. By our cursory count, this means 60% of high schools, 75% of middle schools, and 2/3 of elementary schools would not qualify for guidance counselors. Schools over 600 students will get only one guidance counselor.
  • Special education? At our Parents United meeting, several sources confirmed that the District intends to provide a 16-member roving counseling unit to handle special education emergencies only.
  • One nurse per 1500 students: Though this ratio has not changed, the District is down four nurses from last year. The staggering ratio means 6,000 students have that much less access to basic health services.
  • ZERO full time librarians: Librarians may exist in schools only if hired as teachers.
  • Minimal administrative support: Each school is allotted one school secretary. One assistant principal is given to schools with populations greater than 850 students.
  • Insufficient or zero dollars for book s and supplies: Most schools were allotted funds from which they could choose full time aides, book and supply money, or 1-2 days a week of a guidance counselor or assistant principal. Most, according to this Notebook story, are choosing full time aides leaving little to nothing left over for crucial supply money.

The evidence is clear. While Philadelphia may have enough money to open school house doors, we don’t have the resources to begin to educate our children.

Teacher David Hensel summed it up best:

“This isn’t reform. This is destruction.”

Here’s how parents can push back.

  • Read our FAQ on the current school crisis. We update this page regularly
  • Lobby the city and state for more funds today. Download our reproducible “Action Flyer”  below to share with your networks.
  • Connect with groups around the city making change. Read here for lists and contacts of who to contact and call about your situation.
  • Email us with your own ideas and stories!

Action Flyer:

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