Time is running out for the Philadelphia School District as officials now only have four weeks to secure the money they say they need to deal with devastating budget cuts.
A $304 million budget deficit led to dramatic cuts to programs and extracurricular activities as well as the layoff of nearly 4,000 teachers, administrators and support staff. District officials say if they don’t get at least $50 million by end of this week, they won’t be able to rehire some of the laid off employees.
“When you gut a school building and you take away that you’re setting your school up for chaos,” said Anissa Weinraub, one of the laid off teachers.
A small group of concerned parents of Philadelphia students met with City Council President Darrell Clarke on Wednesday to discuss the budget crisis.
“We have 30 days and I cannot tell you how much fear there is as a parent,” Helen Gym said.
The State gave the city approval to continue levying a one percent sales tax. A spokesman for Clarke says the council will pass a sales tax extension, which will allow the city to borrow $50 million right away. However, council members say they can't move forward until state legislation on the sales tax extension is reworded.
“Council president is working hard,” said Terrilyn McCormick, another parent. “But at this point there are no commitments.”
The governor has the authority to give the school district $45 million to help. That money comes with string’s attached however. A spokesman for the governor’s office says in order for the district to get the money, they’ll have to come up with some reform measures to ensure that a budget crisis like the one they’re currently in never happens again.