School’s in: Students should expect new faces on first day

Hundreds of parents and teachers of the cash-strapped Philadelphia school district protest in front of the school district's headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 22, 2013.  Credit: Reuters
Hundreds of parents and teachers of the cash-strapped Philadelphia school district protest in front of the school district’s headquarters in Philadelphia on Aug. 22.
Credit: Reuters

Amid layoffs, budget cuts and school closings, students may have difficulty recognizing the classroom they exited only months ago.

“The scary thing is that from school to school, kids don’t know what to expect,” said Larissa Pahomov, an English teacher at Science Leadership Academy. “And to a certain degree, teachers don’t know what to expect, because maybe they know that certain counselors or school support staff or teachers haven’t been restored yet, so they know who’s missing, but they don’t necessarily know what that’s going to look like because nobody’s pressed play yet.”

Pahomov, who spearheaded the website facesofthelayoffs.org cataloguing the stories of some 3,000 school employees who lost their jobs, said yesterday that the more than 130,000 students will see new faces today on the first day of school.

Projections show schools will see one nurse for every 1,500 students; one assistant principal if the school has more than 850 students; and almost no administrative support if the school has fewer students. There are no librarians and no full-time guidance counselors if the school has fewer than 600 students, meaning about 60 percent of schools will have no counselors.

Last year, the school district closed 24 schools, relocating between 7,000 and 8,000 students and increasing class sizes.

“In any sort of normal environment, that’s the kind of situation where you’d want to be putting additional resources,” she said, “And instead, just like everywhere else, you have an absence of resources.”


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