School district officials painted a sobering picture during a budget presentation to the School Reform Commission yesterday.
Either legislators crank up funding for the district or drastic cuts would have to be made that will harm students, said the district's business chief, Michael Masch.
"If revenue comes in lower than what we estimated we will have no choice but to make reductions where learning outcomes take place," he said.
The commission approved the district's $2.4 billion budget, which relies heavily on millions in proposed - but not yet approved - state money, and federal money that is slated to dry up by the end of next fiscal year.
The district's adopted budget was based on city and state financial projections, as is typical.
Most years, the state, which provides half of the district's funding, adopts its budget in July.
Last year, however, lawmakers didn't finalize the budget until October, leaving the district in a bind.
District officials are banking on Gov. Rendell's proposed $95 million basic education subsidy from the state, although there are no other proposed increases in other budget areas for Philly, including Head Start and services for bilingual students.
Last year, the district received only $79 million out of Rendell's original $223 million proposal.
Meanwhile, more than $100 million in federal stimulus funds will end.
Officials say they would have to slash into operations to offset the possible shortfall and a looming rise in costs in charter and pension-fund payments, electricity bills and health care.
If that doesn't work, Masch said, administrators might have to cut into instructional programs, reduce the number of new counselors, and delay the openings of early childhood education and re-engagement centers.
On the plus side, Masch said, district officials have set their eyes on an additional federal funding source that most people have forgotten.
Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the district stands to receive $140 million out of $3 billion that the federal government set aside for states whose schools seek to improve academic progress in low-performing schools.
In addition, he added, there are areas the district can save, including:
* $30 million in utilities costs at many aging buildings that account for 50 percent of energy costs, he said.
* $3.3 million by not renewing contracts with 16 EMOs.
* Up to $4 million by eliminating 1,300 bus routes, he said. However, Helen Gym, of Parents United for Public Education, said such a cut would be detrimental.
"Saving costs by cutting bus routes impacts families, and that is a concern," she said.
Gym also questioned why the district would continue to pay roughly $4.2 million to the city even after the Board of Revision of Taxes was dissolved by voters this month.
Masch said funds allocated to BRT employees on the district payroll have been adjusted to be spent flexibly.
Those who remain will be taken off the payroll by the end of the fiscal year, he said.