In a dramatic move, the School District of Philadelphia recently announced that it plans on closing nearly 40 schools and making more than $700 million in cuts in order to close a rising gap in its budget. If implemented, the move would also cause hundreds of district employees to lose their jobs, privatize some of the schools’ services, and slash up to $149 million from the city’s charter school budget.

The AP reports:

The blueprint unveiled Tuesday outlines a five-year financial plan that includes about $560 million in budget cuts. If the district does nothing, it will run an unsustainable $1.1 billion deficit through 2017, Knudsen said.

The plan also would reorganize the district’s academic and administrative structure, severely reducing the size of the central office from 650 employees to about 200. Two years ago, the office had about 1,150 workers. Knudsen noted some employees might find jobs elsewhere in the district.

Meanwhile, declining enrollment has left the district operating at 67 percent of its capacity. Knudsen proposed closing about 40 of the district’s 249 schools by fall 2013 to reach 85 percent utilization. Officials could close another six schools each year after that until the target is met, Knudsen said. 

The system currently serves about 146,000 students in district schools and 46,000 in charter schools, which are public but operate independently of the district. Charter enrollment is expected to grow in the coming years. 

Teachers and unions are not so sure about the district’s proposed reorganization and say it relies too heavily on balancing the budget instead of improving student achievement.

“This restructuring plan has nothing to do with raising student achievement,” Jerry Jordan, the teachers’ union president, said in a statement. “The district provided a business model, not a research-based plan for turning around or supporting schools.”

Philadelphia’s restructuring plan is predicated on the approval of a $94 million of revenue the city hopes to pull in from an increase in property taxes. However, if the City Counsel does not approve the increase, the Philadelphia’s schools will face even more devastating cuts.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    philadelphia has a regressive tax system. all the rich have tax abatements.
    when there is high unemployment there is no one left to pay. our black leaders would much rather hurt the children than to tax the rich. another city down.

  • omfg

    well, with a 65% dropout rate, they probably figure the service is underutilized anyway.

    sorry. know that’s harsh.

    but, the dropout rate shouldn’t be that high. education simply isn’t valued by most. if it were, more children would be breaking their necks to attend and finish. and their parents would be kicking their arses to do well.

    if this were a company and they were trying to determine which stores to close, they’d close the under-performing ones – those with few sales, little patronage and little support.

    evidently, these schools have little patronage and support and few sales in the form of high graduation rates.

  • Tonton Michel

    Operating at 67 percent of its capacity is just not manageable, they shot them selves in the foot by having a top heavy administration as most school districts do but the hole is too deep now. I hate for it to happen because they inevitably put more pressure on the schools with the sudden increase of students but you have to avoid a total collapse.

  • malik hemmans

    like farraCONvict said ameriKKKa is on its death bed

  • jamesfrmphilly

    there is plenty of money in and around philadelphia. the issue is the flow of the money.
    that is a choice of the leaders.

    it is sad to see people on here blaming the students for dropping out. if you were in that situation you might well do the same. the rich pay little in philadelphia. in the suburbs the schools are well funded. all that money comes out of philadelphia. do not blame the students.

    tax the rich. put the money into infra structure. put everybody back to work.
    then there will be money to fund the schools.

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