The budget crises facing local governments across the country has generated a lot of heated debate and rancorous headlines. State and municipal governments are on the brink of announcing huge job cuts in order to close gaping budget shortfalls.
In the city of Philadelphia, the budget crunch will hammer the school district, which covers 155,000 students.
The school system may reportedly fire almost 4,000 employees, or 16 percent of its workforce, as well as cuts in such services as full-day kindergarten classes and alternative education.
The district’s Chief Financial Officer Michael Masch said that more painful cuts will be necessary to heal a $629-million gap (the district’s budget totals $2.7 billion budget).
Masch estimates the district’s revenues will drop (for the first time in decades) by 12 percent this year.
As a result, class sizes will inevitably climb.
We didn't have any good choices left, Masch told a budget committee.. We only had bad choices.
He blamed a weak economy, flattish city revenues, dramatic cuts in state aid and the loss of federal stimulus money.
This is a difficult, difficult budget, and recovery is never painless, said a spokesman for Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett, who proposed a draconian budget with severe spending cuts months ago.
[The governor] doesn't like this budget, but it has to be done. We can't continue to tax and spend our way to prosperity.
An aide to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter lamented the city will be paying for [these cuts] for years.
Meanwhile, the teachers, who are facing more than one-thousand job losses, are settling in for a long fight.-Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, told reporters: I have been very clear with the district. We are not reopening our contract.
However, some teacher have recognized the hopelessness of battling the city, Almost 400 Philadelphia school teachers have said they will retire or resign at the end of the current school year.