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Major Budget Trouble For Philly Schools

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- This kind of money trouble for the district is unprecedented according to its chief financial officer. The warning bell has rung for the Philadelphia School District.

More schools could be closed, teachers laid off, classroom sizes expanded and furloughs are all on the table now that the district is facing a big deficit.

"We'll have, I think a budget deficit, at least a performer budget deficit of $4 - 500 million. It really depends on a lot of the assumptions coming," said district deputy superintendent Dr. Leroy Nunery.

The staggering number hits in 2012 when the federal stimulus money ends as operational costs go up.

"We have 24,000 employees. They get health care benefits. Those costs are going up. We have 320 buildings. We have to heat them," said Philadelphia School District C.F.O. Michael Masce.

The district contends no definitive choices on cuts have been made.

"Since most of our costs are for people, we can't balance the budget, with cuts, without effecting people," Masce said.

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Superintendent Arlene Ackerman is among the top administrators who will be taking several days of unpaid leave this year to make up about a $35 million budget shortfall that will come from the state's decision this week to cut back funding.

There also could be sizable cuts, including layoffs made to the district's central office on North Broad Street.

"Is it daunting? It is substantial, but it's not impossible," Nunery said.

The district's annual operating budget is $3.1 billion.

Which cuts are coming should be clearer when the district passes its next budget by the end of May.

Reported by Todd Quinones, CBS 3

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