Philadelphia schools open with big classes, small staffs, lingering questions about finances

Philadelphia public schools opened a new term with larger classes and smaller staffs, leaving many to wonder how the district will fare over the coming year.

Superintendent William Hite made the rounds at several buildings Monday to greet students and employees. The system serves about 190,000 traditional and charter school students.

Officials contend the district is prepared despite major budget reductions and two dozen school closures since June.

But parents are concerned about children's safety and access to support services. Many classes have more than 30 students.

Nearly 3,800 workers were laid off over the summer to close a $304 million deficit. About 1,650 employees were later rehired with $83 million in restored funds.

The district hopes to recover additional money through ongoing negotiations with city, state and union leaders.