School's open in Philadelphia — but just barely
PHILADELPHIA — The city's struggling public schools opened a new term on Monday with larger classes and smaller staffs, leaving many to wonder how the nearly broke district will fare over the full school year.
Superintendent William Hite made the rounds at several buildings to greet students and employees. While contending that Philadelphia's schools were prepared to open, he acknowledged how much they are missing.
“We still want guidance services in every school,” Hite said. “We need a lot more assistant principals. We need a lot more teachers. ... We need music the full year. We need sports the full year.”
The morning bell capped off weeks of turmoil in one of the nation's largest districts, as school supporters spent the summer staging rallies and pleading with city and state officials for badly needed funds. Hite even threatened to delay opening day if he didn't get $50 million to rehire sufficient staff.
This year, the cash-strapped system laid off nearly 3,800 workers — from assistant principals to secretaries — as rising labor costs, cuts in state aid and charter school growth helped create a $304 million spending gap.
The district recouped $33 million in costs and, with the mayor's promise last month of an extra $50 million, was able to rehire about 1,650 employees. Even so, students will get music and sports programs only for the fall semester.
One of the biggest issues is the reduction in guidance counselors. More than half remain laid off, a major concern in a system filled with immigrants, low-income students and children from unstable homes.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kane’s office backtracks on prosecution in email scandal
- Pa. high court stops closure of health centers
- Academic ‘redshirting’ a kindergarten year parental worry
- Newsmaker: Jacqueline Coplen
- Attorney general Kane reverses claim about child porn in emails
- Obama’s climate plan unfair to Pennsylvania, Casey says
- Pope Francis confirms trip to Philadelphia