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Credit: Dre Reed / For Billy Penn

With five-year projections showing an estimated deficit of more than $700 million, the School District of Philadelphia is scrambling to make ends meet. The district cannot levy taxes, and instead must depend on city, state and federal governments, which have been hit hard by economic depression connected to the pandemic.

School layoffs are on the list of possibilities to help close this year’s $57 million budget gap, according to district officials. Last decade, the state-run School Reform Commission raised money by selling off school buildings. That practice didn’t completely end when Philly schools returned to local control — it happened as recently as 2019.