The fallout of the Philadelphia School District's dismal financial situation continues: 17 central-office employees who provide support to schools were issued layoff notices on Friday.
Overall, 81 positions were eliminated, said Fernando Gallard, spokesman for the school system, but among those were 64 vacant jobs.
The laid-off workers come mostly from the district's facilities and capital improvements offices. One employee from the Office of Family and Community Engagment was also affected.
Shedding the 81 jobs saves the district $5.4 million, Gallard said. The employees will work their last day either Sept. 2 or Sept. 19, depending on their union status.
"These are very difficult cuts to make," Gallard said. "It's hard to see our colleagues go."
The cuts were no surprise — when Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. recently announced that schools would open on time, he indicated some central-office layoffs would be necessary to make ends meet.
Hite ordered other, temporary reductions that could be reversed if state lawmakers pass a $2-per-pack cigarette tax for Philadelphia when they reconvene in September. There will be fewer school police officers in schools, for instance, and school buildings will be cleaned less often.
If lawmakers do not pass the cigarette tax, Hite said he would be forced to lay off more than 1,000 more employees, including teachers.
The central office cuts ordered Friday may be reversed if the cigarette tax money comes through, but they could be permanent, Gallard said.
"We really will have to take a look at these positions, one at a time, to see if they're restored," said Gallard.
Work performed by the laid-off employees must be absorbed by others left at "440," as it is known, the district's headquarters on North Broad Street.
"We're getting to a point here at 440 where it really becomes very difficult — it's an overwhelming load for those who are left behind," said Gallard. "But it's necessary. We are doing our best to avoid cuts in classrooms and schools."