By Nomi Martin-Brouillette
April 18th, the School District of Philadelphia announced all school budgets for the 2013-2014 school year. The SLA budget was cut by about 23%, or $700,000.
This could mean the loss of up to 10 staff members, no after school sports, no Engineering program, no Digital Video classes, no Computer Science classes, and a downsizing of Calculus and Statistics.
It could mean that all Spanish classes would be online, all upper level drama would be cut, and there would be no college counseling.
“This is going to take everyone at SLA to be incredibly creative and incredibly flexible to get through this.” said Principal Chris Lehmann. “This is not a manufactured crisis, this is real.”
On Tuesday, April 30, SLA held an emergency Home and School meeting about the cuts to our schools budget. Mr. Lehmann assured the audience that if any teachers were laid off, they would go to teach at SLA-Beeber, guaranteeing that everyone would have a job.
“One way or another there is money to make sure that each SLA teacher has a place to teach at SLA.” say’s Lehmann. “We are just not sure which campus.”
So what will the SLA community do in the face of these budget cuts? Something the community is very familiar with: fundraising.
The Home and School Association will be fundraising among families, Mr. Lehmann will collecting grants and private donations, and a new Drexel summer teaching institute will all help SLA attempt to close the gap.
Mr. Lehmann also started a petition online “to try to get all the sports team to fund the athletics program.” The goal is to get professional sports teams in Philadelphia to fund the school districts after school sports programs.
SLA is also organizing to speak up about the budget cuts and demand that city and state sources provide additional funding.
Pennsylvania is 1 of 3 states that doesn’t have a funding formula, allowing these kinds of cuts to the budget to happen. Last year, The School District of Philadelphia borrowed $300 million so the budget didn’t have to be cut, but this year, with the district in increasing debt, no money is being borrowed.
“To continue to borrow money just would continue to put the district on the path to bankruptcy.” said District Superintendent Dr. William Hite.
The next SLA Home and School meeting about the budget will happen May 21st, all are invited to attend.