Ravi Giberson, 11, is one of the Philadelphia students in the CIMT program. At the end of the school year, he faced the prospect of no longer being able to receive musical instruction at school because of the drastic budget cuts this year in the Philadelphia public school district.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) welcomed, but prompted more action from the School Reform Commission (SRC) after it announced last week that it would be recalling hundreds of teachers in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) that were laid off over the summer.
President of the PFT Jerry Jordan issued the following statement Monday morning:
"This a welcome, much needed first step toward restoring programs and services for our school children, but it doesn't go nearly far enough. The PFT will continue to fight to bring back the over 3,000 school employees that were laid off due to Harrisburg's failure to adequately fund public education," the statement said. "Our children deserve fully funded and properly staffed public schools. It would be immoral to open our schools in September with such a lack of programs and services."
On Friday, a special meeting of the SRC revealed that the District intends to use $33 million in confirmed funds to rehire 220 secretaries, one for each school, and 66 music instructors, thereby completely restoring the Class Itinerant Music Teachers (CIMT) program that was sacked by layoffs earlier this summer.
“We will be using $33 million, which we are confident that we will have access to, and we will be using it to bring some programs and personnel back that are crucial for us to get ready for school and to be able to have a school culture that is important for our students,” Gallard said.
The CIMT program delivers small, group music instruction to roughly 10,000 students throughout the city. Current funds will support the return of those music instructors and secretaries until Jan. 2014.
Trinette Giberson’s son Ravi received music instruction through the CIMT program at Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School last year. Giberson said she’s thrilled to hear that the program will be funded through January, but she worries about what will happen after that time.
“I think that it’s good news that we get the program back until January. I’m kind of blown away,” she said. “I was hoping they would be able to find the money from somewhere, even if it’s only through January. I mean its great news but it just kind goes to show the sad state that we’re in. It’s a double edged sword. It’s very good news, but they obviously still have more work to do.”
According to district personnel records obtained by NBC10.com, 290 school secretaries were among the 3,000+ employees to be laid off by the district earlier this summer. That number includes 40 bilingual secretaries. Base salaries for school district secretaries ranged from $19,387 to $60,118. The bulk of these employees were hired prior to 2000 with some having been with the district since the 1980s; one employee started in 1976.
The $33 million will also restore several sports programs, including the return of coaches, referees, and the purchase of new equipment. Monies would allow these programs to be funded through the end of December.
In addition, the District plans to use remaining monies to implement charter-run turnaround programs as part of the Renaissance Schools Initiative in three elementary schools, James Alcorn Elementary, Kenderton Elementary, and Francis D. Pastorius Elementary.
Gallard says the District will make assessments on how to best apply additional monies as they come in.
“This is what we plan to do with the funds that we’re confident we’ll have access to at this time. We’ll identify more steps, going forward and as more money comes in, we hope to fund those positions further.”