Philadelphia schools calling back 325 laid-off teachers

Posted: August 15, 2011

With more than 1,300 classroom positions to fill before school starts, the Philadelphia School District will call back 325 teachers who lost their jobs in June, officials announced Monday.

More teachers may be asked back in the coming weeks, a spokeswoman said.

In all, about 1,500 teachers were laid off as a result of a budget gap of more than $650 million. Currently, there are 1,335 teaching vacancies.

"This process follows the collective bargaining agreement providing teachers with the most seniority within a subject area priority in re-hiring," spokeswoman Elizabeth Childs said in a statement. "The district and school administrators continue to work to have all schools fully staffed and ready to educate students on September 6."

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Vice President Arlene Kempin said the news was good for some members - but that much is still up in the air. It's not yet clear, for instance, in which subject areas the teachers will be needed.

About 1,000 teachers who are considered forced or voluntary transfers will select new positions in the system beginning Tuesday, for a small number of early childhood and vocational spots. The majority of teachers will begin picking jobs Wednesday, in seniority order.

That process will continue into next week, Kempin said.

Simultaneously, jobs will be filled through site-based selection at the district's Promise Academies, or turnaround schools. Positions at those schools are not filled based on seniority; rather, principals hire candidates who apply from within the district.

The union and district are also waiting for an arbitrator's decision on whether Promise Academy teachers can be exempted from layoffs.

Kempin said that the district also recently laid off 26 teachers as a result of the district's decision to cancel eight schools' conversion to Promise Academies.

She said she's never seen so much uncertainty this late in the summer.

"It's been really tough," Kempin said.

Contact staff writer Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146, or on Twitter @newskag. Read her blog, "Philly School Files," at

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