The Doomsday Budget Strikes As Thousands of School Layoffs Have Begun

Wide-ranging layoffs have begun at the School District of Philadelphia. “Multiple sources inside the district tell Action News that Superintendent William Hite has sent out emails to a number of school personnel outlining the layoffs,” though the exact number is unknown. Secretaries, counselors, and assistant principles are among the staff that are expected to lose their jobs after the school’s $300 million “doomsday budget” was recently approved. Staff that works in sports and arts programming–which are also slated to be cut–will also likely receive pink slips. More to come on this front, to be sure. [6 ABC]

Update [11:03 a.m.] CBS 3 is reporting that more than 3,000 employees have been laid off. “Hite describes the cut positions as “essential” but notes that at the moment there’s no extra money from the city or state, which are putting their budgets together over the next month.” The full text of Hite’s message, published by Newsworks, is below.

Update [12:15 p.m.] The School District has just fired all its 160 assistant principals.

Hite’s statement, emailed to SDP employees last night:

Dear Colleagues,

As you are aware, our District is facing catastrophic financial challenges. Last week, I presented an operating budget for Fiscal Year 2014 that excludes many full-time positions and programs amid city and state revenue shortfalls and uncertainty over personnel savings. I believe these positions and programs are essential to students and families in every school throughout the District. However, due to our legal and financial mandate to submit a budget by May 31, the School Reform Commission approved the spending plan based on known revenue. The District is aggressively seeking funding from the City of Philadelphia and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and currently negotiating with our labor unions to reach savings in personnel costs. The District can amend its budget as more funding becomes available; the City and Commonwealth must approve their budgets by June 30. Unfortunately, we do not have any commitments from City, Commonwealth or our labor partners, and we must prepare our District and schools for operating with the funds that we know we have. This will require massive, draconian reductions in programs and staff. This means that over the coming days we will be sending layoff notifications to many of our colleagues. We regret having to take these steps and will continue advocating for the funding that gives our students the education they deserve. On a personal note, I am profoundly upset about having to take these actions. I remain hopeful and will continue working tirelessly so that we will be able to restore many of the positions, programs and services that are crucial to maintaining nurturing and effective learning environments. I believe that our students have a right to adequate education funding and that our colleagues play an essential part in our schools’ and District’s success. Please contact your supervisor with any questions or concerns about the next steps in this process. I greatly appreciate your support and continued commitment to our students, especially in these very difficult days ahead.”

Update [6/9] Here’s the full list of employees the district has laid off: