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Growing Outrage Over Stalled Cigarette Tax Meant To Help Philadelphia Schools

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Matt-Rivers-web-headshot Matt Rivers
Matt Rivers joined CBS 3 and The CW Philly’s Eyewitness News team ...
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By Matt Rivers

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was another setback for Philadelphia schools Thursday and another protest Friday outside Governor Tom Corbett’s office in Philadelphia.

Protesters shouted, “No more cuts,” as they decried the Republican-led decision to cancel a special session set for Monday in Harrisburg.

That session would have seen lawmakers vote on a possible $2 per pack cigarette tax.

Republican leadership say they canceled the session because the bill became too complicated, weighed down with non-school related amendments.

That means the school district is facing an $81 million deficit and officials have said that could mean eliminating around 1,000 jobs.

“Its just knowing that we’re caught in the middle of a political game being played by adults and that’s unfair to our schools and our children,” said Robert Caroselli, the principal of Fox Chase Elementary school in Northeast Philly.

Politics aside, he said the simple and alarming reality is that with further cuts, his school will do less educating and more babysitting.

“If we have more cuts, I can’t ethically or morally tell our parents that when schools open up we’ll be able to effectively educate their children,” said Caroselli.

Any cuts that do happen will take place by August 15.

Some local lawmakers indicated Friday that they will support any plan that arises to sue the state in federal court for a failure to educate its citizens.

That would be a long process though, and Philly school’s are supposed to start just over a month from now.

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