A day of reckoning is swiftly approaching for the Harrisburg City School District. The top-heavy district is getting a reality check because of a $15 million budget deficit and the inability to get grants to fill budget holes.
Items on the chopping block are two neighborhood schools (proposed for closure), 120-150 teachers, 22 percent staff and more administrators. Other items up for elimination are the district’s vocational and technical programs and programs for disruptive and truant students.
Director Wayne Henry was quoted as saying the district would have to start living within its means. Director Esther Edwards said the closures were horrible but if we don’t have the money to operate, we’re going to have to do it.
The Harrisburg School District is synonymous with the City of Harrisburg. There are 17 schools and 8,306 students. The district spends $13,182 per pupil. There are 11 students for every full-time equivalent teacher. The dropout rate is 6 percent. 21 percent of students have and IEP and 8 percent are ELL. Data from education.com based on 2008 data.
According to Wikipedia, in 2011 Harrisburg SD ranked 494th out of 498 school districts in Pennsylvania for academic achievement. Harrisburg High School’s 2010 graduation rate was 79 percent and the school is in year 7 of corrective action for chronically low student achievement. In 2009 a Pennsylvania Dept of Education study revealed that 67 percent of Harrisburg High School graduates needed costly remediation in math and reading before they were prepared to take college courses.