Updated | 3:25 p.m.
The School District announced 342 layoffs Thursday, most of them noontime aides and special-education classroom assistants.
But the total also includes eight assistant principals, three conflict-resolution specialists, and 15 assistants in Head Start classrooms.
District spokeswoman Raven Hill said that these layoffs were mostly the result of budget decisions made by principals and are not related to the 1,300 layoffs that may be necessary if the legislature fails to give final approval to a cigarette tax to raise funds for the District.
Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams has been criticized for being the only Philadelphia Democrat in the Senate to vote for an amendment that would "sunset" the $2-a-pack cigarette tax for Philadelphia schools after five years.
In a statement sent to reporters, Williams said he did so as the best choice available to get the tax approved.
Following is the text of his statement:
After winning a major victory in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives last week, the proposed cigarette tax for Philly schools appears stalled in a game of legislative pingpong.
On Tuesday, the Senate sent the bill back to the House by adding amendments, and now the House isn't scheduled to reconsider the measure until Aug. 4.
School leaders say that leaves plans for opening schools in September in total disarray.
The Philadelphia School District's budget crises never seem to end.
In fact, even as students and parents hold their collective breath for the possibility of even more cuts to classroom resources for next school year, the ghost of last year's crisis lingers.
Last summer, Superintendent William Hite said he would not open schools unless the District received an additional $50 million from the city.
Updated | 11:30 p.m.
The School Reform Commission declined Thursday to adopt a budget proposal that would raise class sizes as high as 41, cut 800 teachers, reduce special education services to their bare minimum, prevent all but the most basic building maintenance, and make further cuts in services like counselors and nurses.
The SRC made the decision even though failing to adopt a budget before the end of May violates the city charter.
"Rather than adopting a 'Doomsday II' budget – and give anyone the impression that the cuts it contains are feasible or acceptable – we are going to not act on the budget tonight," announced SRC Chairman Bill Green. "Instead, we will continue to focus our energy and attention on securing the needed funding for our schools."
Accounts of the collapse of a 7-year-old boy at Jackson Elementary School on Wednesday say that at least two first responders -- a library volunteer who was a retired nurse and an employee of a behavioral health organization trained in CPR -- were not regular staffers and just happened to be in the building.
That raises the question of whether Jackson had in place an emergency plan required by the state departments of Health and Education that identifies "specially trained" staff and specifies staff responsibilities.
"In true emergency situations, the school should do all in its power to render emergency care," say the guidelines. "To prepare for emergencies that can be reasonably anticipated in the student population, the school should have written first aid policies and emergency management practices in place. These policies and procedures should reflect staff responsibilities and district expectations for staff action in an emergency situation, including identifying specially trained and designated individuals who, in addition to the nurse, will render first aid."
City Council summoned School District leadership Wednesday to answer more questions on the needs of the schools and to argue over what the city can and should provide.
But after three hours of sharp verbal sparring, they seemed no closer to a breakthrough that could get the District enough money in time to avoid triggering hundreds of layoffs and planning for class sizes in September of 40 students or more.
Philadelphia School District officials went to City Council on Monday seeking funds to balance the District's budget.
The School District is seeking $75 million plus the entire $120 million that an extension of a 1 percent Philadelphia sales tax premium would generate. The District brought its big guns to make its case for more funding, including Meredith Elementary principal Cindy Farlino.
"We are trying to make it work, but we can only carry this so far," she said. "The thread we are holding is being stretched to the limit, and we hope and we know that you can throw us a rope."
As the angry crowd of parents, principals, teachers, and other public education advocates filed out of Wednesday night’s School Reform Commission budget hearing, SRC Chair Bill Green gave a capsule summary of what he said moments earlier.
“It’s immoral what’s happening to the students,” he said. “It’s unfair what’s happening to the teachers.”
The two-hour hearing on the District’s 2014-15 school budget included a grim presentation of the District’s financial picture by Chief Financial Officer Matthew J. Stanski and a flood of critical testimony, mostly from parents and educators.
The legal battle over whether Philadelphia's School Reform Commission has the power to unilaterally impose new work rules on the District's teachers is getting more intense with the filing of new arguments urging quick action by the Supreme Court.
In a friend-of-the-court brief filed Friday, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) maintains that "the collective bargaining agreement ... has proven a particularly high barrier to the District effecting reforms essential to providing services in a fiscally responsible and manageable manner."