Posted on April 16, 2024
Categories: News from SDP

Please use your preferred translation service to read in your language

Dear School District of Philadelphia Community,

For some time, the District had a practice of initiating a Fall process called Enrollment-Driven Resource Review. This process, also called Leveling, uses real-time enrollment data to reassign teachers based on actual enrollment needs and changes District-wide.

Understandably, reassignments of teachers raised concerns from community stakeholders about the practice’s impact on students, staff, and school communities. Over the past year, the District engaged students, families, staff, elected officials and school communities through the extended operating budget development process; Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Priority Survey; teacher, principal, and student advisory councils; and City Council hearings to get valuable input on the most important types of investments that the District should make as we work together to help our students thrive.

As a result, the District will reallocate up to $8.8 million from Central Office cuts and energy savings to fund the discontinuation of leveling in any schools or classrooms after the beginning of the school year. In order to adequately and equitably staff every school to meet the needs of all District students, we will implement process improvements and increase outreach efforts to students and families during the summer months to get more accurate enrollment information heading into the school year.

Research shows that the single most important factor in a student’s academic attainment is having access to an effective, highly-qualified, and stable teacher over time. The next factor is effective, stable principals. We are committed to investing in and protecting our classrooms from budget cuts, to the extent we can. We have taken the following financial responsibility measures, which will allow us to eliminate leveling and reduce the deficit:

  1. Reduced Central Office budgets, with no layoffs of current employees, and implemented a modified zero-based-budgeting process
  2. Better aligned projected costs with historical spending
  3. Implemented data-driven program evaluations to determine return on investment
  4. Partnered with the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia to seek private and foundational support for critical Accelerate Philly initiatives

Over the past year, the District made notable progress – reducing the student dropout rate; increasing the number of students passing state tests; and improving student and teacher attendance. Additionally, based on a report issued by Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research and The Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University, the District had the fastest School Year 2022-23 post-pandemic recovery in math grades 3-8 and second fastest recovery for reading in grades 3-8, among all large, urban districts, who were included in the study. As we look to build upon this success, it requires us to continue to work collaboratively and strategically. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to improving student achievement across the District.

In partnership,

Tony informal signature

Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D.
The School District of Philadelphia