PHILADELPHIA – If ever there was a school district with huge financial problems, it’s Philadelphia’s.
The alarming media headlines have told the story for the past few years:
From January, 2012: “Philly schools send layoff notices to 1,400.”
From June 2013: “3,783 being laid off by Philadelphia school district.”
From August 2013: “Philadelphia borrows so its schools open on time.”
Sounds like a desperate situation, doesn’t it?
But maybe the school district’s financial problems do not have to be as grave as they are. Perhaps this district is a lot like an alcoholic who complains about being broke and homeless, yet spends all of his money on booze.
How else can a district with a $300 million deficit explain having 395 employees making more than $100,000 per year in straight salary, totaling more than $50 million per year?
How else can this district spend more than $132 million per year for health insurance for teachers union members alone, while the teachers contribute a measly $288,000?
How else can the district pay $5.2 million per year toward a “wage continuation plan” for sick or injured employees, or $36 million in severance pay for those leaving the district?
EAGnews came across these disturbing figures – and many more – as part of our continuing “Where Your School Dollars Go” series. We inspected checking records and filed freedom of information requests in an effort to track as much district spending as possible in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 fiscal years.
There’s absolutely no reason for this type of spending when district leaders are begging state and national officials for operational funds to keep their doors open.
Some say the Philadelphia school district is broke? We say district and union officials have nobody to blame but themselves.