Philadelphia Borrowed $50 Million to Open Schools On Time

It took an extra $2 million in state funding and Philadelphia had to borrow $50 million to open their public schools on time, but many are still sounding alarm bells.

In addition, the district and its two unions, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators, are still at the bargaining table discussing possible givebacks.

The Philadelphia Daily News calls it the “grim new normal for the district’s 137,000 students and their families.”

There are 24 fewer schools than last year and many of them will need to make due without full-time guidance counselors and other support staff.

This year, schools with fewer than 600 students – that’s about 60 percent of them – won’t have a guidance counselor on staff. Instead, those schools will be assigned “roving counselors” who will be in charge of five or six schools. 

Meanwhile, class sizes are skyrocketing – even though the upper limit under the teachers union contract is 33 kids in each classroom. Already, teachers and parents have complained over social media about class sizes reaching 44 students, even 48 in one case. 

These are just a few examples of the new reality hitting Philadelphia’s 218 traditional public schools. In the crisis that was widely publicized throughout the summer, the district has been struggling to fill a $304 million deficit. It laid off 3,859 employees in June and has asked for $180 million from the state and city, as well as $133 million in concessions from labor unions.