Trouble looms over Philadelphia schools

Tuesday, February 23, 2016
11

By Megan Milligan

MaryKate Kilpatrick has worked for the Philadelphia School District for 15 years. Kilpatrick’s own school was to be turned into a charter school two years ago, but the parents of the students voted against it. It remained Luis Munoz Marin Elementary School, where she teaches sixth grade.

According to Kilpatrick, oftentimes she is left to buy her own supplies for her classroom. She hasn’t had a pay raise in many years, and works many hours before and after school. She is not currently being reimbursed for her time, even though a more demanding teaching schedule takes up most of her day.

Until now, she has never had to worry about losing her job.

The budget crisis looming in Philadelphia has Kilpatrick and other teachers worried about if their schools will stay open.

Republicans and Democrats are in a stalemate once again, as Governor Wolf

has line vetoed sections of the new budget proposed by Republicans. He scorned the budget, calling it “garbage.”

Wolf blasted Republicans for changing the deal they had originally agreed on, and remains set on signing that original bill.

The original budget would raise taxes but give more money to education, and reform the public pension system.

Wolf line item vetoed several parts of the new budget, including a plan by Republicans to cut education by $95 million.

The parts of the budgets that were passed would allow public schools in Philadelphia to remain open, but pressed for time to find ways to budget the money to allow them to stay open.

“Our children, teachers, and families will benefit greatly from Governor Wolf’s actions to partially restore charter reimbursement funding,” Mayor Jim Kenney’s office said in a press release.

“Unlike his predecessor, Governor Wolf recognizes that we can’t play politics with our children’s education.”

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers union is urging parents, teachers and taxpayers to reach out to their elected leaders and “remind them that they were elected to ensure Pennsylvania’s citizens have access to high quality services like public education.”

The PFT also complained on behalf of teachers, about the lack of supplies and support within the school district, and gave thanks to those who came out to vote for Governor Wolf.

According to the Philadelphia School District’s Annual Budget report, even if the budget passes, the school district will still be in the negative at the end of the fiscal year. “If at least $84.7 million in additional funding is not provided, the District will be forced to reduce services in its already depleted schools to balance the budget,” the budget states.

These services include nursing support, emotional guidance support, tutoring, and art and music programs according to the PSD budget.

Critics say not all of the funds allocated benefit the school itself.

The budget of Lewis C. Cassidy Elementary School reveals that it receives $4 million about $131,000 goes into the actual school and school programs itself. The rest goes towards salaries. The school,

located in West Philadelphia, is one of the schools deeply affected by this budget crisis.

This has been called a “misappropriation of funds,” by many teachers in the school system.

Meanwhile, Kilpatrick is left “praying that our lawmakers make the changes needed to improve our education system.” She said every year she can see a decline in academic success as budget cuts get worse.

“The emergency funding is just a bandage on deeply rooted problems in the education system,” Kilpatrick said. “I think about changing my career, transferring schools, leaving the Philadelphia School District every day.”

According to Kilpatrick, those students are her second family, and family doesn’t turn its back during hard times.

Contact Megan Milligan at communitarian@dccc.edu

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By Megan Milligan
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