The news of the funding crisis at Philly’s school district, which recently sent layoff notices to nearly 3,900 school employees, has gone national, with a report in the New York Times yesterday that could scare young parents away from wanting to live in South Philly.
The case in point the Times uses to illustrate this disgrace is Andrew Jackson elementary.
That’s the plucky little public school at 12th and Federal that has made great progress in recent years thanks to a dedicated troupe of neighborhood activists (like the Passyunk Square Civic’s education committee) and what several parents have told us is a principal who’s doing a bang-up job. But the report makes the situation sound grim:
PHILADELPHIA — When a second grader came to the Andrew Jackson School too agitated to eat breakfast on Friday, an aide alerted the school counselor, who engaged him in an art project in her office. When he was still overwrought at 11, a secretary called the boy’s family, and soon a monitor at the front door buzzed in an older brother to take him home.
Under a draconian budget passed by the Philadelphia School District last month, none of these supporting players — aide, counselor, secretary, security monitor — will remain at the school by September, nor will there be money for books, paper, a nurse or the school’s locally celebrated rock band.
“I am worried sick,” said Lisa Ciaranca Kaplan, the principal, whose homey school in South Philadelphia serves 410 students, speaking 14 languages, all of whom qualify for free meals. “How do I relieve teachers for lunch if I have no one in the lunchroom? I’ll be the only person in this building who’s not in a class.”
Of course, there’s still some hope. The layoff notices can be rescinded if an 11th-hour solution is found (Daily News columnist John Baer says Gov. Corbett won’t want the schools to implode while he faces re-election, for instance). Nevertheless, Axis Philly suggested in a story yesterday that the schools’ troubles on top of increasing taxes under AVI could be just the combination to slow all the progress neighborhoods like South Philly have made in recent years.
So, what do you think. Are you a parent who’s considering moving? Is this the last straw?