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Judge Temporarily Halts Philadelphia School District Layoff Plan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge Monday granted a temporary restraining order against the School District of Philadelphia, putting a halt for now the school district’s plan to lay off 1,500 teachers.

Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman confirmed on Monday that the district was sending out layoff notices to 3,024 employees, including the teachers. She said teachers at the district’s worst-performing schools (dubbed “promise academies” by the district) would not be subject to the layoffs because she wanted to minimize disruptions at those failing schools.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers went to court on Monday afternoon, asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the school district from moving forward with the layoffs, which the union says must done according to seniority — including “promise academy” teachers — according to its collective bargaining agreement.

Common Pleas judge Idee Fox issued the TRO and scheduled a hearing on the matter for June 14th, forcing the school district to rescind the layoff notices for the time being.

Earlier in the day, seeking to smooth out an apparent rift with Mayor Michael Nutter, Ackerman said she would provide the mayor with whatever documentation is needed to get millions in new funding from the city.

“We’re going to be accountable for whatever resources that we get,” Ackerman told reporters after an event at the National Constitution Center on Monday. “We have no trouble; I have no trouble with accountability and transparency.”

Late Sunday night, Mayor Nutter sent a nine-page letter to members of the School Reform Commission demanding that Dr. Ackerman turn over a “complete and detailed accounting” of the district’s funds. The district has come under fire in recent months for proposing to cut valued programs like all-day kindergarten and school busing to help close a $629 million budget gap.

“We, the city, need to have a much better understanding of the district’s financial picture, how they make operational decisions,” the mayor said today. “In order for us to be better partners with the district, to be able to explain publicly what is going on inside, we need more information.”

Two weeks ago, district officials asked the city for $75 million to $110 million to help save kindergarten and busing, along with accelerated high schools and preserving smaller class sizes.

Last week, the mayor proposed increasing parking meter rates, and either enacting a new tax on soda or increasing property taxes by 10 percent to raise the money.

Several City Council members, however, expressed concern last week that the district was not effectively managing its finances and wondered if the district was “fearmongering” by putting some of its most effective programs on the chopping block.

Then, on Friday, Ackerman announced that she had saved all-day kindergarten by shifting some funds, catching the mayor off-guard and raising new questions about how much the school district needs a significant tax increase to save key programs.

The mayor says his letter was not in response to that announcement but it does reference it:

“With last Friday’s sudden and surprising announcement by the superintendent that full-day kindergarten will be funded from Title I dollars for the coming school year, the need for vital information is even more urgent,” the mayor wrote. “Now is the time for rapid response and a clearing of the air. We need facts and clear statements about what the District will do with any restoration of funds.”

The mayor’s letter laid out a number of scenarios to provide the school district with new funds ranging from $54 million to $206 million. He is also asking the SRC to sign an “Education Accountability Agreement,” giving the city more oversight of the financially-strapped district.

Ackerman says she and the mayor have moved beyond their differences from Friday.

Watch the video…

“We’ve talked about that, and I think that we agree that we’re going to focus on getting these funds,” she said. “The decision [to restore full-day kindergarten] happened quickly, and it was purely an educational decision. I was trying to support the thousands of parents out there who are waiting and in limbo, and I realize it may have created some political problems for the mayor. I didn’t think about that.”

Meanwhile, KYW Newsradio City Hall Bureau chief Mike Dunn reports that all of this has thrown the mayor’s plan for a soda tax to bail out the school district into disarray.

Some Council members, like Maria Quinones Sanchez, say the school district’s plan to use Title I funding for full-day kindergarten won’t wash, since those funds are earmarked for lower income students.

“Using Title I funding that is based on a poverty formula may open up a can of worms,” she said. “You may be closing one hole and opening up ten others.”

Other lawmakers, like Councilman Curtis Jones, say Council approval of a soda tax or the alternative, a property tax hike, is now less likely with the District’s action.

“It was a non-consensus to start with. This doesn’t help matters,” he told KYW Newsradio.

Councilman Bill Greenlee agrees:

“Given that their main ask was full-day kindergarten, and now they took care of kindergarten, I have to ask the question back, do we really need to raise taxes?”

A hearing on the soda tax and property tax proposals is set for Friday.

Reported by Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3; Mike DeNardo, KYW Newsradio 1060; and Mike Dunn, KYW Newsradio 1060

Top Content On CBSPhilly

  • Dan

    Tom, learn how to spell! It’s educate. If you have a better way of educating, then go for it. But until then, shut up and you just keep flipping burgers at McDonald’s.

  • Hupsters

    There is only one real solution and that is vouchers for private schools. Left to their own, unionized public employees are incapable of controlling themselves, have no way of seeing beyond their own noses or beyond the current contract fight.

  • Tina Ferrer

    They’ll have their union perks until the people of Philly are paying 60-70% taxes which at this point won’t help the kind of entitlement debt Philadelphia has accrued. Looks to me that when the checks stop or they actually bounce will give administrators’ time to get outta town with neither Mayor Nutter nor Ms. Ackerman nowhere to be found. Don’t worry Philly, this will be happening all across the Nation but looks like you could be one of the first along with California to blaze that trail. How do I know? I’m a forensic accountant for the State of California. It’s going bad to worse for everyone but the public employee. Good luck Philly….

  • Frank

    Who cares what happens in Filthadelphia. Most of the kids in the school system are black thugs who don’t care whether they learn or not. Why put good money into teaching these animals, when you will never get a return on your investment.

    • Michele

      I am saddened to hear that you are such a bigot! You really should not live in an urban area. It is a shame that you feel this way about students of PHILADELPHIA! Calling the city dirty has nothing to do with the hard working school staff members and students. i am sad that you have such poor self image that you need to pick on children. Hopefully, one day you will grow up!

    • Grandma31


  • sirandrew

    Why not kick out students when the reach sixteen that are disruptive,dangerous and show no inclination for the desire to learn, .This will free up a lot of teachers and class rooms/.

  • Bill

    You can blame the D’s if you want but here in RED RED RED Lubbock, TX, the same thing is happening. At the beginning of the school year, teacher raises were approved by the ulta conservative politicians on the School Board; now layoffs loom as the LISD attempts to cope with a 6% reduction in state funding. Yes, the public sector unions own ALL politicians now.

    • Jason

      Bill – if you look around this nation as a WHOLE, it is clear that liberal policies have NOT worked. Your Lubbock example is but a conservative drop in a bathtub full of liberalism.

      • Jason

        And another thing: your totally stealing another poster’s original comment below and twisting it for your agenda is, well, how shall I say this nicely: simple minded and so typical of a liberal who can’t formulate an original thought on his own.

    • Bill

      Well Jason, it appears to me that we have been following the Conservative policies of cut taxes on the wealthy, raise taxes on lower and middle incomes (payroll taxes now make up more of the Fed. govt’s revenue than do income taxes) for the last few decades has led us to the situation we are in now. We have just experienced the lost decade. More Americans were working in Jan. 2000 than were in Jan. 2010. We had 30 to 40 percent job growth in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s; now we have negative job grwoth in the 00’s. The economy started heading downward when Nixon was elected and has never reversed course. I seems to me you policies have failed this country. And I thought it was real resourceful of me to copy(Control C then Control V) the comments below; I suppose you “capitalist” would have redone it all and wasted resources as you have down everytime you are in power.

      • Tina Ferrer

        Well Bill, why not invoke George Washington on your thesis. Are you going to blame Nixon, who i couldn’t stand, with a bounced State check? That’s where we’re at Einstein and we’ve given Obama more than two years now to produce one molecular whiff of relief for the American people. It’s getting worse Bill, you know it, I know it and the American people know it. Say, what about Zachary Taylor, he must have done something to create what we have going on here, no?

  • Dan sichel

    Cushlamacrie. 2000 less teachers, but I’ll bet there are the same number of administrators.

  • kristy franco

    half the kids can’t read or write anyway… who needs the teacher??
    Just make it one step easier for the kids to sell drugs in the schools or beat each other up….without the teachers they don’t have to spend all day trying to tell time and wait to beat each other up when lunch time rolls around.

    • Jawal

      This is Marx on display pure and simple. In Philly, the Dem’s have had control for over 60 years. They get the money, spend the money, write the curricula, teach it and what do we get? Failure in every category. Dem’s cannot blame Republicans for this failure because conservatives are laughed off the stage in Philly and have no voice whatsoever. Test scored are in the toilet–yet lib’s rule the educational system with an iron fist and have compete control of what is taught. Failure, Failure, Failure. In Marxist states, the people who created this type of failure would be shot. One last thing: There is not one group of people on the planet like American liberals who take such pride at failing students. Yet to remedy this situation would bring such a violent protest from the community who elected these fools to office that it is a lost cause. It is time for blacks to leave the Democrat party and become independents and literally rise up and brutally punish the liberals who have failed them with so much destruction. Alas, that too is a pipe dream. America—THIS IS WHAT LIBERALS HAVE PLANNED FOR YOUR CHILDREN.

      • Tinea Ferrer

        Nailed it Jawal. Philadelphia has been under Democratic control for over half a century and yes this is what that ideology eventually creates, misery, disunity, anxiety, depression, et al., of which any American can see on their own street, town, city, state and now the country because the ideology runs out of resources. Now America has a front row seat watching the worst of this in our history in real time. The Pugs are as responsible as the Rats which is why in 2013 you’re going to see a forced exodus of RINO’s as well as a fleet of Democrats looking for work in the private sector. One thing that cannot be deferred and is unequivocal fact regardless of whose responsible and regardless of excuse and that fact is we as a Nation are broke. It’s never happened before which is why this is so hard to fathom. Well it is and we’d better face it. You can’t even put lipstick on that one.

      • Bill

        This is Marx on display pure and simple. In Lubbock, Texas, the Rep’s have had control for over 60 years. They get the money, spend the money, write the curricula, teach it and what do we get? Failure in every category. Rep’s cannot blame Democrats for this failure because liberals are laughed off the stage in Lubbock and have no voice whatsoever. Test scored are in the toilet–yet con’s rule the educational system with an iron fist and have compete control of what is taught. Failure, Failure, Failure. In Marxist states, the people who created this type of failure would be shot. One last thing: There is not one group of people on the planet like American conservatives who take such pride at failing students. Yet to remedy this situation would bring such a violent protest from the community who elected these fools to office that it is a lost cause. It is time for blacks, whites and browns to leave the Republicant party and become independents and literally rise up and brutally punish the conservatives who have failed them with so much destruction. Alas, that too is a pipe dream. America—THIS IS WHAT CONSERVATIVES HAVE PLANNED FOR YOUR CHILDREN.

  • NS

    When is Queen Arlene going to be arrested for all the waste, fraud, and abuse?

    • M

      I say the city needs to hire fronsic accounts and see who’s “cooking the books”. Then Queen Arlene can be indicted.

    • changomango

      She’s a fellow “African-American”, Obama will never allow it.

  • AmericanFirst

    Why address the situation at all. Shouldn’t raising taxes fix it?!? Who needs to worry about the out of control costs.

    • changomango

      There’s no tax base in Philly. The majority of that cities population is on welfare and/or some other type of public assistance, they don’t work or are so unskilled they earn minimum wage and therefore don’t pay any federal taxes. If you impose some sort of city tax, they’d all go ape in protest.

  • george

    Welcome to the world of Obama! You asked for it, you got it! Obama and liberalism is a total failure!

  • gliderdriver

    Margret Thatcher,

    “Socialism works fine until you run out of other peoples money”

    • Fanny Forbes Franklen

      Actual quote:

      “The problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” – Margaret Thatcher —

      • Bill

        It seems like that is what happened to AIG, Lehman, etc. also. These “capitalist” seem to have run out of other people’s money. Under W.Bushes (“I had to throw out my free market values to save the free market”) capitalism, the taxpayers then bail out the “capitalist.”

  • Spartacus

    Democrats just can’t seem to manage money. I can’t understand why anyone would ever vote for a democrat again. Ever!

    • gliderdriver


      They have no money left to manage!

      • Spartacus

        Dude, Because they couldn’t manage it when it was there. The more they get, the more they waste. Always with the hand out expecting more. The well’s running dry. Time to budget.

    • Bill

      Only Democrats Bill Clinton and Lyndon Johnson have ran a balanced budget since WWII.

      • Bill

        Also, look at jjob creation; Jimmy Carter had greater percentage job growth in employment his term than did Reagan in either of his terms. Also, there were more jobs created during Jimmy Carter’s 4 years than in the Bushes 12, COMBINED.

      • Bill

        Reagan had Republican Congresses also and look at the massive deficits he ran; he more than doubled the debt of the previous administrations combined. Also, only the first Democrat, Andrew Jackson, had not only no deficits, he paid off the entire nation’s debt; no Republican has ever done that

      • Jack Kennedy

        and both presidents were force to budget by the republican congress ……………… just as the republicans are trying to do for obama, make him look good by cutting, cutting, cutting

      • buddie

        Bill you are only partially right Reagan only had a republican for 6 of the eight years. Reagans deficits were no where near what obama is running, and reagan not only drastically improved the economy he idrastically increased revenue to the government because of the prosperity (for everyone ) …through TAX CUTS. Jackson may have been a democrat but he absolutly was against your liberal nanny state and an absolute conservative as you pointed out, low taxes,no debt, no public expendatures,or for glory completly the opposite of your buddy obama..

  • gliderdriver

    Over the past 20 years the population of Philadelphia has fallen by about 500,000 people,as they flee the high crime rate and the ridiculously high taxes. And I bet the number of people employed by the Philly school district is 25 % higher than is was 20 years ago.

    Anyone want to take that bet?

    • John

      I’ll take the bet that your population numbers are way off. The number or residents in the city has dropped by about 60,000 since 1990. Do some research before you type something so foolish next time.

  • FNTM

    Does it really matter whether there are teachers in the Philadelphia schools or cut straight to he chase and make it policemen. The students will need them later sooner rather than later.

  • Vincent

    Ha Ha you stupid greedy union thugs. The taxpayers own you but you don’t realize it! You could have taken a small across-the-board cut but UNION GREED drove you to get fired instead. Those that still have jobs are going to hate them more than if they’d taken a small cut because they’re class size and homework loads will be increased by double digit percentages. Teachers are STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! Why do we let them teach our kids?

  • Jim

    They are all Ds in Philly so what don’t they just raise taxes to pay for the deficit and add a 10% pay raise for the teachers while they’re at it? All those Ds will love the tax increase because tey love taxes.

  • Silhouette

    Well, at least they still have all their union perks. Just like Obama…the unions will pay them! No? Isn’t that in the contract? Oh…all the union dues were spent on electing Obama. Oh well, enjoy the vacation.

  • Tony Danza's mom

    I hope Tony Danza still has his job!!

  • me

    Here in Philly, the big D’s are finally running out of other people’s money. Reap it.

  • stop2think

    All day Kindergarten or tax payer funded day care for parents who do not want to spend THEIR OWN money babay sitting kids.

  • danielle

    She needs to go and I want to know where all of the money has been going isince they need so many millions more to get out of their deficit! Where were they spending the money that was already budgeted for certain programs. I deserve to know since my property taxes are most likely going to be paying for their corruption. Ugh this makes me want to take the white flight!

  • fred

    Why is it that suburban schools and inner city Catholic Schools can generally put out a much better product (better educated students) at half of the costs than metro public schools can. Is it the teachers? studemts? parents? politics? lack of priorities? all of the above? One thing for sure it’s not lack of money.

    • Dan

      Because those parents(most of them) of Catholic and suburban students understand the importance of education. They are willing to make the sacrafices needed for the children to succeed. They go to back to school nights and report card conferences. The inner city parents (most of them) look at school as free day care. The catholic and suburban students work for hours every night and come to school prepared. The public school students (not all of them) don’t. The Catholic and suburban schools have the guts to dismiss misbehaving students, while the Philly public schools (administrators) sit on their hands because they get repremanded if they have too many suspensions, etc. When a public school student gets in trouble or does not have good grades, it’s the teacher’s fault. Where is the parental accountability? I know about life in all three areas (I went to and taught in Catholic schools, my kids go to school in the suburbs, and I teach in a Philly public school) and I can go on and on about what is wrong.

    • Maria

      How would you go about proving that?

    • lukuj

      When parents are paying for their students to be educated, they are far more likely to demand more of their kids so that their money is not wasted. Also (I can only speak from my experience as a teacher in Catholic schools) teachers learn to make do without every new bell and whistle. Students who don’t behave can be counselled out after appropriate measures have been taken to give the student opportunities to shape up. Parents can be required to be involved, pick up report cards, come to parent conferences.
      I taught at a public school with a parents who didn’t need to be required to be involved but did so on their own and, though not paying tuition did, for the most part, demand their kids behave and work. The results were a school usually earning a rating of “exemplary” from the state. It can be done, but not without parents who demand their kids work and behave and not with students who are out of control, lazy, or unmotivated.

      • Bill

        The teachers blame the parents here in Lubbock too. By the way, who are getting paid to teach the children? Dole sucking teachers or tax paying parents?

      • lukuj

        Bill, if kids are told or pick up on the attitude of parents that learning isn’t important and if they have never been taught to behave, no matter how good the teacher is at both teaching and disciplining, the teacher can’t undo what parents have done at that point. A good teacher may be able to help the child improve, but learning only occurs when the parent and teacher are a team. I know it is easier to think the teacher has to do it on his/her own, but in reality it doesn’t work that way. I urge you to spend a few years teaching and see if your attitude changes. i had a parent who said pretty much what you did who ended up teaching for several months as a sub and came and apologized to me afterwards, and actually this was a pretty good class.

  • Hater

    I agree. The Demoncrats are totally to blame for the demise of this once great city.

  • Primetime Editorials

    no more layoffs this is pathetic
    so sad

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