By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia teachers’ union is mulling its legal options now that the School Reform Commisson has taken the unprecedented step of overriding the union’s contractual seniority protections.

The school district says that as it hires back about 1,000 of the 3,800 assistant principals, teachers, counselors, and aides laid off in June, it wants to maintain as much stability at schools as possible — so seniority protections had to go.

The SRC also put a halt to pay raises called “step increases,” based on the length of teachers’ service (see related story).

Schools superintendent William Hite says it’s a result of the school district’s financial crisis.

“I’d want to pay teachers as much as we possibly can.  But given the fiscal environment with which we are currently in, that’s just not possible,” Hite says.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ president Jerry Jordan says the union is weighing its legal options, but wonders whether union members will wait for the issue to go through the courts.

“I am more concerned about the level of anger members of the Philadelphia Federation are feeling,” he said.

The SRC’s move comes as the union and the school district try to negotiate a new contract before the current deal expires on August 31st.

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