Public schools are in the black

Link: Phila. schools project a budget surplus [Daily News]

Regarding the budget, if expenses stay on course, the district will have $490,000 left when the fiscal year ends next June 30, said the district's chief business officer, Michael J. Masch. He noted that last spring the schools were grappling with a $29.7 million deficit.

A fraction of that deficit remains on the books - $476,000. It will be erased and replaced by a surplus "as long as we keep spending under control," Masch said in an interview.

The improved financial situation is due in part to a hiring freeze that reduced salaries by $16.7 million; $5.7 million less being spent on charter schools due to smaller-than-projected student enrollments, and $6.5 million less being spent on transportation, due to SEPTA's agreement to charge the district only for TransPasses that studentsuse rather than for all passes given to them, Masch said.

Commission members said the financial projections from Masch - the state's former budget director - should remind state lawmakers that the taxes that have been invested in city schools are being managed well.

"It's very important that this is the type of message that gets to Harrisburg . . . These are dollars that have been well-managed, well-spent and accounted for," Sandra Dungee Glenn, chairwoman of the reform commission, said during the meeting.