Philadelphia School District hiring 500 new teachers

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The Philadelphia School District is in the midst of a major turnaround. (WPVI)

The Philadelphia School District is in the midst of a major turnaround.

Hundreds of new teachers will be in the classroom this fall, and programs that were cut due to budget constraints are coming back.

Aashita Batra is a student teacher at Julia De Burgos Elementary in the city's Kensington section. Soon to graduate from a select master's program at Temple, her specialties are science and math.

Instead of taking perhaps an easier road and higher pay in the suburbs, she'll be assigned to a Philadelphia school in the fall.

"I want to show them that anybody can be a scientist. The stigma of the fact that only men can be scientists or the fact that you just have to be really, really smart," said Batra. "No, you have to be curious and you have to ask questions."

The superintendent says four of Batra's fellow Temple classmates will go to work for the Philadelphia School District.

"We always have between 300-500 people that we have to hire each year," said Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. William Hite.

The district is hiring 500 new teachers in June. Counselors and nurses are being hired as well so that every school will once again be fully staffed.

All music programs are back in business and so are sports and art - a stunning comeback from just three years ago when there were 5,000 layoffs.

"This is fiscal management," said Dr. Hite. "I mean you have to get to a place where our expenditures are not outpacing our revenues, and we are at that place - temporarily."

So after years of misery, it appears the Philadelphia School District is by and large on a new roll.

"The new teachers seem to be doing exactly what we need them to do, which is incorporate technology, and just be really passionate about our children," said Principal Maritza Hernandez.

"You wanna be there to show them all the world has to offer them, no matter what their circumstances are," said Batra.

Challenges remain, however, with no teacher's contract after years of bitter wrangling, and a systematic budget gap of more than a half-billion dollars that will resurface in three years and will have to be addressed once and for all.

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