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Fate Of Philadelphia’s School Year Hangs In Balance

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(School District of Philadelphia headquarters, near Broad and Spring Garden Streets.  File photo by Mike DeNardo)

(School District of Philadelphia headquarters, near Broad and Spring Garden Streets. File photo by Mike DeNardo)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This is the do-or-die week for Philadelphia public schools. By Friday, the superintendent has to decide whether to lay-off hundreds of teachers, which could delay the start of the school year. An infusion of cash is the only thing that would guarantee that schools open on time.

Superintendent William Hite has repeatedly warned schools stripped of staff would not be able to serve the district’s 130,000 students.

“I don’t intend, under any circumstances, to put children in that position,” Hite says.

But he says he’ll have no choice but to send out a thousand lay-off notices if he can’t close the district’s budget gap.

“With an $81 million shortfall, at some point, you have to make a decision about what you do in terms of those individuals who are on payroll,” he says.

Hite says Governor Tom Corbett’s suggestion that the district just go ahead and spend the money it has and assume it will get the rest is not a good option.

“That’s not a fair circumstance to put the school district in, nor is it a fiscally responsible one,” he says.” “We are only going to spend the money that we have.”

Hite says he’s still lobbying for full funding, hoping it will come through by Friday’s deadline.

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