Schoolmageddon ’13: Welcome Back, Philly Students. Sorry.

This summer has not been kind to the Philadelphia School District, but after months of teeth gnashing and struggle, the district opened 212 schools today. As you’d expect in an ongoing $300 million budget deficit, they’re understaffed and have large class sizes thanks to the displacement of some 9,000 students thanks to 24 school closings in June. But they are open.

Superintendent William Hite, meanwhile, notes that “conditions will not be ideal,” and advocates are urging parents to volunteer at their children’s schools to help stem the personnel loss the district suffered at the start of the summer. Which, to be fair, is all anyone can do for now—at least until Hite can secure the $103 million he’s seeking in savings from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

Those conditions that “will not be ideal,” though, mean a lack of counselors thanks to only 116 rehired of the 283 laid off in June. School staff will also be lacking, with just 1,649 returning employees of 3,783 similarly laid off workers. The solution in the meantime is 16 “roving counselors” working across several schools, and relying on volunteers to fill the remaining empty roles.

Now if only we could figure out how to replace that sense of excitement parents and students usually face the school year with instead of the dread that’s replaced it. []