Philadelphia School District cuts will include 1,200 teachers

The School District of Philadelphia yesterday announced draconian plans to cut nearly 16 percent of its workforce, including more than 1,200 teachers, eliminate full-day kindergarten and scale back art and music spending to close a $629 million budget deficit.

Among the cuts of about 4,000 positions, 650 noontime aides and 400 Central Office employees are expected to be eliminated. The district said the reductions are necessary due to a $292 million cut in state funding under Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget proposal and the loss of federal stimulus dollars. The moves come as the district tries to carry out Imagine 2014 and follow up eight consecutive years of improving test scores.

“The District recognizes the great financial challenges currently facing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and we are prepared to do our part to deal with these challenges,” said a statement from the district.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers was expectedly angered with the planned layoffs, particularly the hit to kindergarten.

“We are outraged by the short-sighted and indiscriminate cuts the school district is making to balance its budget. Targeting pre-school programs that are proven to prepare youngsters to be successful in school is unconscionable,” PFT President Jerry Jordan said in a statement.

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