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300+ layoff notices for city schools employees

More than 300 Philadelphia School District employees will receive layoff notices on Thursday and Friday.

Most of those affected are noon-time aides and special education classroom assistants. No teachers appear to be affected.

Philadelphia School District officials confirmed the layoffs, and said that the moves were unrelated to the stalled cigarette tax legislation that has imperiled $45 million in state funding.

Superintendent William R. Hite said yesterday that if the cigarette tax is not enacted by August 15, he would have to begin as many as 1,300 layoffs. Thursday's layoffs are unrelated.

Overall, 342 workers are being laid off effective July 31. The layoffs were not based on seniority; officials have said they believe the School Reform Commission has the power to let employees go without regard to seniority. The teachers' union is challenging that position.

On the layoff list are 157 special education classroom assistants; 147 noon-time aides; 15 pre-kindergarten teacher assistants; eight assistant principals; four career and technical support assistants; three conflict resolution specialists; two each of library assistants, community relations liasons and central office employees; one bilingual counseling assistant; and one sign language interpreter.

District spokeswoman Raven Hill said the layoffs were based on decisions principals made about individual school budgets.

The district's financial picture remains grim, with a $93 million gap in the budget and, because of the cigarette-tax delay, uncertainty around whether schools will open on time.