Parents, School Staff Raise the Pressure as School Funding Deadline Nears

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — While the mayor and City Council president continue to lock horns over how to provide an additional $50 million for Philadelphia schools (related story)  before a Friday deadline set by the schools superintendent (another related story), parents and staffers today were staging a daylong hunger strike outside school headquarters.

Sitting under tents, about a hundred parents and noontime aides say the school district needs to rehire the 1,200 noontime aides laid off in July.

Ramona Mercer says the aides — also known as “student safety staff” — do much more than clean the cafeteria.

“First, we have to keep the children safe in the lunchroom, in the hallways, in the classroom.  And then we clean the floors, and then we clean the tables,” she angrily told the crowd.

One parent, Earlene Bly, says she’ll fast to illustrate the urgency of Friday’s funding deadline to open schools on time.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes,” she said, “to be out here and to let them know that we are serious, and we need them to do the right thing by our children and put our children first.”

But a school district spokesman says that even in the best financial scenario, not all of the laid-off aides will be hired back.

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