by Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia School District officials are not asking for any additional city money this year, but they did warn city council in budget hearings on Tuesday that without some action, they’ll be facing deficits again soon.

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The district’s rare budget breathing room comes, in part, from the unfortunate situation that staff shortages have saved millions, though that’s also meant overcrowded classrooms.

Officials say they hope to fill many of the vacancies by next month, and to restore nurses and counselors cut during lean times to every school, and even invest in technology for high schools.

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But finance director Uri Monson warns these salad days will last only a few more years, then go the other direction.

“In our five-year plan, we end fiscal year 2021 with a $600 million fund balance deficit,” said Monson.

More than half of that is changes in the real estate tax structure and the sun-setting of the cigarette tax. The rest is in the increasing cost of charter schools.

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All of those things are out of the district’s, and even the council’s, control and are part of state law.