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Phila. School District Takes Dispute Over Teacher Health Premiums to a Higher Court

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Last week's court ruling that temporarily blocked the School District of Philadelphia from imposing changes on teacher health care has been made permanent.

But the district is appealing to a higher court.

The ruling by Common Pleas Court judge Nina Wright-Padilla prevents the school district from forcing the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to begin paying health care premiums on December 15th.

The district is appealing to Commonwealth Court, where it seeks a judgment on whether the School Reform Commission had the authority to cancel the PFT contract.

"It allows us to move quickly to a higher court and get an answer on this very important issue," says school district spokesman Fernando Gallard.

PFT president Jerry Jordan, meanwhile, is pleased the changes are on hold, but he says it's a labor dispute that should be settled at the bargaining table.

"What we wanted to do and still want to do is, we want to resolve contract negotiations at the table, not in the courts," he said today.

For now, the school district is allowing principals to spend $15 million in savings anticipated from the health care changes.

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