School district again faces massive ‘structural challenge’

d1beecd7c603abd5c16fc80a67d8e9eb
RIKARD LARMA/METRO

Seven months after city lawmakers approved a property-tax increase to help put the School District of Philadelphia on solid financial footing, elected officials questioned the district’s latest money woes.

The district said last week it needs to cut $61 million by the end of the school year and that it faces a “structural challenge” of $269 million next school year. Tom Knudsen, the former CEO of Philadelphia Gas Works, has been appointed chief recovery officer to oversee the cuts for the next six months.

Councilman Bill Green said the district has not adapted to better compete with charter schools.
“It’s got to seriously change the way it runs public schools and it hasn’t effectively done that,” he said. Green noted that in previous years school officials have either not answered Council’s questions or provided unsatisfactory answers, yet Council must approve funding.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz questioned why this year’s setback wasn’t noticed sooner, pointing to the Memorandum of Understanding signed last year by the district that was supposed to provide the city and state with unparalleled and “historic” oversight into its finances.

“Does that mean that the reports they were filing were untrue? Why should the city be surprised now?” Butkovitz asked. “I’d say that the burden is on the school district to show that the [current] numbers are true.”

Some Council members have said they would be hard-pressed to support more funding for the district yet again.

“We have to find other ways to come up with funding because “John and Jane Q. Public” can’t stand another tax increase,” Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell said.

Council, district talked yesterday

Council members met privately with Tom Knudsen, the district’s new recovery officer, and SRC members Pedro Ramos and Feather Houstoun yesterday to get a briefing on the district’s plan.
   
School officials said they do not know exactly how they will close the $61 million shortfall by June, according to Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who chairs the Council’s education committee.
   
“What happens from here we don’t know, but we do feel that Pedro and Feather and Tom are engaged, intelligent and know what they’re talking about,” Blackwell said. “I feel certain they’re working on [a plan] and we’re going to have all the dialogue we want to have. We came out feeling hopeful.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…