The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Philadelphia passes ‘doomsday’ school budget

It isn’t called a “doomsday” budget for nothing: Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission approved a budget this week that includes cuts so drastic that if they are implemented, schools will be forced to open in the fall without funding for things such as paper, new books, athletics, arts, music, counselors and more.

The budget was passed Thursday night as parents and others shouted “Disgrace!” and other things at the commission members who ignored the warnings of more than 55 speakers about the importance of the programs being gutted,  the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Superintendent William Hite said that the drastic cuts — which were made to deal with a projected $304 million deficit — would be nothing short of catastrophic.

Commission members and Hite say they hope the city will find new resources to restore some of the programs that were cut in the $2.4 billion budget — and Mayor Anthony Nutter said he is looking for ways to raise more revenue for the schools.

As of now, however, Philadelphia public schools will open next fall without funding for things including:

* new books
* paper
* counselors
* assistant principals
* arts and music programs
* athletic programs
* secretaries
* librarians
* support staff to monitor cafeteria or playgrounds

Helen Gym, a parent activist, labeled the impending budget vote “an immoral act.”

She’s got that exactly right.