Philly Public Schools Severely Distressed

The School District of Philadelphia is operating under significantfinancial stress.  To prevent a delayed opening to the school year, the District borrowed $50 million just to provide minimum staffing for the 136,000 student system.  Prior to the emergency borrowing, the District closed 24 schools and laid-off almost 3,800 employees.  The system is currently rated as 'junk' by Moody's Investor Service.  This situation is the result of state and local political dysfunction, long-term secular population trends and off balance sheet liabilities.  This story of financial and fiscal stress is not new.  When analyzing a municipal credit like the School District of Philadelphia, we like to see transparent financial reports, clear leadership accountability, available cash and time. The School District fails all four criteria.  While it’s financial reports were recently updated to include reports on pension and health care obligations, it still lacks clear leadership accountability due to joint local and state oversight.  Further, it has run out of cash and is now out of time as well, making it the latest weak municipality to hit the front pages.