After rounds of budget cuts that slashed the number of school nurses and counselors in the Philadelphia School District, the school system announced Wednesday that it plans to hire 800 teachers, and nearly 60 school nurses and 50 counselors.
The announcement followed a commitment by Superintendent William Hite to have a nurse and counselor in every school.
Also returning critical resources to all schools. Committed to giving all schools a counselor and nurse, but dependent on state revenue.
-- Dr. William Hite (@SDPHite) March 10, 2016
Hite’s plan, disclosed to school principals in early March, relies on the passage of Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget. Ongoing disagreements between Gov. Wolf and the Republican-led state legislature have led to a months-long budget standoff.
Even with its reliance on outside forces, Hite’s earlier pronouncement drew praise from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which said at the time that it welcomed the news.
“For years, the PFT has been at the forefront of a citywide fight to restore the counselors and nurses we lost to budget cuts,” union president Jerry Jordan said in a statement then.
Jordan said it seems like the district was finally hearing its concerns.
“Our schools are still woefully under-resourced,” he said in the March 10th statement. “Our fight to restore programs and services for schoolchildren is far from over. But this is a very positive step toward giving our children the schools they deserve.”
The topic of school nurses has been a sensitive one in the city. In 2011, the district had 289 school nurses. By the 2013-14 school year that number had dwindled to 179. Two student deaths in the past few years had led many to demand an increase in the number of full-time nurses.
The district is hoping to have new staff in place by the end of June. It is also looking for teachers with experience in grades 4-8, and in math and science in grades 5-12. The district also wants teachers in special education, art, music, foreign language, bilingual education, and those with dual certification in math, science, and special education.
“Great teachers and staff are critical to our focus on building a more equitable system of schools across our city,” Hite said in a statement Wednesday. “We are committed to hiring educators and support staff who believe deeply in the potential of all students.”
Starting salaries for teachers without any experience is $45,360. Counselors and nurses start at $45,360 and $51,113, respectively.
Interested in teaching in Philly? You can get more information here.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.