PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A preliminary budget for the Philadelphia School District seeks no new city funding, assumes that Governor Wolf’s budget for next year will pass, and anticipates more school closures ahead.
The $2.8-billion spending plan presented to the School Reform Commission does not require new money from City Council, but banks on more state money with the adoption of Governor Wolf’s latest budget proposal.
District Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson was asked why the district would plan on new state funding when the current year’s budget was stalled by a nine-month Harrisburg stalemate.
“Part of the issue is, right now there’s only one budget proposal (Governor Wolf’s) out there,” he said. “There’s no alternative. So we’re going to work off of that.”
The district’s five-year financial plan assumes that because of declining enrollment the district will close three schools a year, starting in Fiscal 2018, says Superintendent William Hite:
“That is to offset what we’re seeing as now the number of children who would be in charters, based on what’s been approved already.”
That five-year plan shows revenues going up by 2.2 percent a year, but expenditures growing at twice that rate.
The plan includes funding for “fair workforce agreements” as part of $440 million in new spending over five years. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has been working without a new contract for nearly three years.
Hite says the district expects to end the current fiscal year in July with a $135-million surplus. That’s the result of what he called “good” and “bad” savings” — the “good” from savings on fuel and utility costs, and the “bad” from unfilled positions. He says the district isn’t spending that cash on new personnel because it’s one-time money that is not recurring.
The district by the end of March is required to adopt a preliminary estimation of anticipated revenues and expenditures known as a “lump sum” statement.