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If No Cigarette Tax By Aug. 15, Phila. School District Says Layoffs Will Begin

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia's schools superintendent says if the state legislature doesn't authorize a cigarette tax by the middle of next month, he'll begin sending out pink slips.

The state house reconvenes August 4th to consider an amendment-laden measure authorizing a cigarette tax to help fund Philadelphia schools.  The district is losing an estimated $1.6 million in revenue every week that tax is delayed.  Superintendent William Hite says time is running out.

"If in fact we don't have a path forward by August 15th, is the latest we could go, we would have to begin sending out layoff notices.  And those layoff notices would be based on whatever we have or do not have at that period of time," Hite said.

Hite says revenue from the tax is critical to opening school on time.

"Without any of that, then it's not likely that we would be opening," he said.

Because Hite says he has no intention of opening schools with up to 40 students in classrooms, and fewer school police.  Hite says he's disheartened that approval of the tax has been tied up by politics.

"It's extremely frustrating, because it has nothing to do with educating children," he said.

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