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New Head of Philadelphia Schools Blames Previous Board For Huge Shortfalls

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The new head of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission blames what he calls “bad fiscal policy” of the previous SRC for the continuing financial plight of city schools.

At a daylong City Council hearing today,  councilmembers wanted answers on how the Philadelphia school district ended up with a current deficit of $26 million and a projected deficit in the coming fiscal year in the hundreds of millions (see related story).

In testimony lasting an hour, SRC chairman Pedro Ramos spelled out in blunt terms that the previous SRC applied stimulus money to new programs rather than using it to address the long-term structural imbalance of the district’s budget.

Ramos was questioned by Councilman Mark Squilla, among others.

(Squilla:)   “So we had extra money, especially the stimulus money that was used for other things, (and) the SRC approved the new programs that were being used instead of paying down the debt.”

(Ramos:)   “Yep.  Bad fiscal policy.  I wasn’t here.  At the time there were a lot of optimistic projections about what they could accomplish, and not all those projections had good plans behind them.”

Ramos, who took the top post at the SRC last October, called the current efforts to solve the district’s dire straits “a defining moment.”

Reiterating that the current deficit is $26 million, the SRC chief said he could not yet estimate the deficit expected in the coming fiscal year, but indicated it would likely be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The reasons for that, he testified, are threefold: that the current red ink will “roll over,” that the district has a $169-million structural imbalance, and that basic obligations like salaries are growing while tax revenues are not.

ramos three New Head of Philadelphia Schools Blames Previous Board For Huge Shortfalls

(Photos from City of Phila. TV)


“In the next couple of years, there isn’t going to be a magical moment where this all goes away,” Ramos told the panel.  “This has to be managed away.”

The SRC, he said, is working toward those goals.

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  • Tray

    I find it truly sad that education is being affected in this city. How many people are on the Mayor’s payroll who really have no function. I’m sure that these politicans are creating “JOBS” for their friends and family while the children have to suffer with cutbacks in education. I think there should be a forensic audit of every single city department so the taxpayers can have some idea where all their taxdollars are going.

  • rich ciuckis

    i ask repectfully, mr. ramos, i being an empolyee of the phila school district, why now am i in jepordy of losing my employment with the school district for the financial disaster that you stated was caused by and at the hands of the former src members? i would like a reply from you regarding this comment. i would also repectfully request your email address for future correspondence. i thank you for your time.

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  • ms

    We need to look at not just the school board and how they spend money but the city council and the mayor! I think the school board is a drop in the hat if someone really starts looking in to the way the city is wasting money. They paid 50 million for an ice skating rink proposed 15 million to redo Love Park. How much does the city still owe for the stadiums? What else are they wasting money on???

  • MikeInPhilly

    I go out to work every day and earn a fixed amount of money. I would love to have a whole lot more luxuries in live but I have to live within my earnings. These irresponsible people on the District need to do the same and live within their means. If there is not enough dollars to go around then they will have to consolidate further and if that means layoffs/school closings etc then that will have to be a reality.

    • d.

      Layoffs and school closings? Where do you expect the children to go to school and who would you like to teach them? I don’t have a solution, but teaching in a school that has laid off over 20 staff members and will have to cut more next year (only teachers and a principal are left), I don’t know where else the cuts can be made. I’m even paying out of pocket for EVERY supply that is used in my classroom, including paper.

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