By Mark Abrams
Nurses in the Philadelphia school district and their supporters are staging weekly protests at the school administration building on North Broad Street to demand the return of 44 nurses furloughed recently (see related story) as part of districtwide budget cuts that could mean layoffs of up to 1,400 district workers by the end of this year.
Eileen DiFranco (above), a nurse at Roxborough High School, is among the organizers of the weekly protests. She says the district’s move to lay off the 44 nurses in the middle of the school year has meant part-time coverage averaging two days a week at several elementary schools and high schools throughout the district.
She urged political leaders to step up and lead:
“The mayor is saying that he wants high quality schools. Well, you can’t have high-quality schools manned by skeleton crews, so I don’t understand. To me, he’s talking out of both sides of mouth.”
DiFranco says she and others realize that money is tight everywhere but question why the lack of funding is simply an excuse to do away with personnel.
“Can’t people do something creative?” she wonders aloud. “Do we just look at a situation and say, ‘All right, we don’t have money, so we’re going to cut back. We’re going to take money away from children.’ ”
The district says because the unions failed to agree to concessions, it had no choice but to go to layoffs to balance the budget.