Philadelphia Teachers Hit by Latest Cuts
Money is so short at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences, a public middle school here, that a nurse works only three afternoons a week, leaving the principal to oversee the daily medication of 10 children, including a diabetic who needs insulin shots. On the third floor filled with 200 seventh and eighth graders, one of two restrooms remains locked because there are not enough hall monitors. And in a sixth-grade math class of 33 students with only 11 textbooks to go around, the teacher rations paper used to print out homework equations.
With state education funding down 8 percent from 2011 and pension costs rising, the city and school district have searched desperately for new sources of revenue to close an $81 million deficit.
The latest fund-raising effort came last week when the School Reform Commission, the state-appointed board that oversees the Philadelphia schools, unilaterally and abruptly canceled the union contract for teachers and required them to pay minimum health care premiums from $25 to $67 a month for a single person. Until now, teachers have not paid for health insurance.