By Kyle Olson
PHILADELPHIA – Here’s an item from the “strange but true” file: One of the nation’s largest urban school systems, the School District of Philadelphia, has three farmers on its payroll.
Leftists will probably greet this news as evidence that “green jobs” actually do exist.
But the rest of us are wondering why an urban school district that’s hemorrhaging money is employing any farmers at all.
That’s just one of the questions raised from a recent open records filed with the Philadelphia school district. In the course of trying to determine how much money the district spends on things like teacher health insurance and step increases, we stumbled onto a treasure trove of information about the district’s extravagant spending practices.
While most of the items were discussed in our new report, “Sucking the Life Out of America’s Public Schools: The Expense of Teachers Union Contracts,” we felt that several details deserved a more thorough examination.
For example, was surprised to learn that not only does the Philadelphia school district employee three farmers, but they are also members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. And they’re not the only PFT members who presumably never interact with students.
Here’s a partial list of school employees who are covered by PFT’s teachers’ contract:

  • 3 farmers
  • 6 alarms systems dispatch operators
  • 1 architectural designer
  • 3 asbestos abatement foremen
  • 1 cable network producer
  • 2 climate support assistants
  • 49 community relation liaisons
  • 1 contract clerk
  • 1 electrical drafter
  • 1 environmental services clerk
  • 2 fire safety specialists
  • 1 industrial nurse
  • 1 lead workers’ compensation clerk
  • 1 lifeguard
  • 2 motivation coordinators
  • 1 pest control foreman
  • 3 records center clerks, 1 supervisor
  • 2 retirement clerks, 1 technician
  • 3 serious incident desk recorders, 1 stat analyst
  • 1 tort claims representative
  • 5 transportation mechanic foremen

See a list of all PFT members, job titles and 2010-11 base salaries here.
While these positions within the school district may certainly have their value, virtually all of them – not to mention more not even listed – could be performed by outside companies for a fraction of the price.
Considering that budget problems forced the district into laying off 2,200 teachers last year, it’s mindboggling that Philadelphia school officials didn’t demand these ancillary positions be outsourced before a single teacher was given a pink slip.
By the way, if any of Congress $10 billion “edujobs” bailout went to keep the Philadelphia farmers on the payroll, we don’t want to know about it. It might cause us to seek the help of one of the 117 school psychologists represented by the PFT.

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