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In Announcing Classes Would Begin On Time, Phila. School Officials Repeat Their Call For Concessions From Teachers Union

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- In announcing that classes would begin on time, Philadelphia school officials repeated their call for concessions from the teachers union to help plug an $81 million budget gap.

Cigarette tax money, if it comes, would fill about half of the budget hole. The district is still pushing its teachers union for concessions. Superintendent William Hite says the district is no longer seeking across the board wage cuts.

"But rather, benefits changes that would enable us to restore essential services to schools," Hite said.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers head Jerry Jordan says the district is asking for furlough days, which amount to a wage cut. And he says the union a year ago offered to begin paying toward health care premiums, something it doesn't do now.

"The district chose not to take advantage of the offer. And had they done that, they wouldn't be in the financial situation that they are right now," Jordan said.

SRC chair Bill Green said if the union doesn't make concessions, the Commission will use its power under state law to impose terms.

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