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Pennsylvania Governor Will Release $45 Million to Philadelphia Schools

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced today that he would release $45 million to Philadelphia schools. That money will allow the school district to rehire some 400 staff members, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. 

The district was in such dire financial straits at the end of this summer—more than $300 million short of meeting its budget—that it came close to not opening on time. The $45 million that Gov. Corbett, a Republican, released today had been earmarked for the city's schools, but the state said it would not be released until the district had made certain reforms, including getting concessions from its union.

The district did open on time, after the city came up with a so-called "rescue plan." But it opened with dramatically reduced staffing. Philadelphia schools Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., had described the city's rescue package as "necessary but not sufficient" to properly operate schools. 

Charles Zogby, the state's budget secretary, said that the district had made sufficient progress toward improving its academic performance and finances for the state to release the funds. 

The district is still seeking more than $100 million in concessions from its unions. (This Inquirer story has more.)

Not all schools will have school nurses or counselors even with the influx of state funds. Hite said that the lack of funds so far had been "detrimental" to students, especially those applying for high school and college and those with special needs, according to the Philadelphia Public School Notebook.

The district's bare-bones staffing was in the news in Philadelphia this week: A 12-year-old girl passed away after having an asthma attack in a school that had no full-time nurse, which some advocates said was an example of the dire consequences of the budget. Gov. Corbett said that the girl's death was not connected to his decision to release funds, but expressed sympathy to her family.  

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