Philly schools: No cash after Jan. 29?
With an ongoing stalemate over the state budget (deadline: June 30) in Harrisburg, finances remain precarious for many agencies that depend on the commonwealth for funding.
The cash-flow situation is particularly dire for the Philadelphia School District, which educates about 130,000 students. In a letter sent to staff Tuesday night, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said the school system could run out of money on January 29 without a new state budget.
"After that date," Hite write, "our ability to keep schools open, issue paychecks and pay bills is uncertain. The prospect of running out of operating funds is dire."
The School Reform Commission took out a short-term loan of $250 million recently to keep the lights on temporarily, but with struggling districts and state agencies around Pennsylvania in similar binds, it's not clear whether the school system would be able to borrow more money if the budget impasse continues.
Hite said the district is "exploring all our options for contingency planning," but could make no guarantees about what would happen.
He urged employees to continue advocating for a budget "that provides the critical support all Pennsylvania students deserve" with the legislature and Gov. Wolf.
The state House adjourned Tuesday night without a budget deal on the 168th day without a spending plan for the commonwealth.
The Pennsylvania Senate passed its budget-related bills last week (with provisions that alarm Hite and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers), but no final deal has been struck.