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Phila. Schoolteachers, School District Hoping State Mediator Will Break Logjam

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A state mediator is taking a larger role in the ongoing Philadelphia teachers’ contract negotiations.

Philadelphia public school teachers have been working without a contract since the start of the school year.

Now, the temperature at the negotiating table is being turned up a bit, with the daily involvement of state mediator Bill Gross.

School district spokesman Fernando Gallard says both sides agreed to increasing the role of the mediator.

“He’s going to be involved in a daily basis throughout this week,” Gallard said today.  “It started this past Monday.  So he’s going to be working closely with the parties.”

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ president Jerry Jordan says if there is greater urgency at the table, it’s because of the need to restore cuts to school programs this year.

“Many people know that there are a lot of cuts that are impacting the children and we don’t believe that they should exist.  That’s what’s happening,” Jordan told KYW Newsradio.

Last August the union offered to agree to a pay freeze and to begin paying toward healthcare premiums.   Jordan wouldn’t comment on whether that offer remains on the table.

But the district has insisted on teacher wage reductions and other concessions to pay for restoring deep program cuts this school year.

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