Blasting plans by the Philadelphia School District to cut 69 school nursing positions, teachers union president Jerry T. Jordan told a packed room of district nurses Tuesday that laying off nurses in the middle of the school year would violate their labor contract.

Jordan, who as head of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers represents school nurses, said they were covered under a provision forbidding midyear teacher layoffs.

"We have really solid grounds" to contest the proposed layoffs if the district goes through with them, Jordan said at a meeting of about 100 nurses at South Philadelphia High School.

Out of 69 positions on the chopping block, 51 would be accomplished through layoffs. The remainder are open positions that would be eliminated.

The district has said the move would save $5 million, part of its efforts to close a $15 million midyear budget gap.

Jordan said the district was looking to take the nursing cuts off the table by making other reductions.

Asked about this, spokesman Fernando Gallard said the district was "looking at these cuts as partners with the PFT, looking for ways to minimize the effects on our schools."

The district announced the planned reductions Friday, and additional cuts include $10 million to individual schools' budgets.

Before this new round of cuts, the district had already shed about 3,000 employees to bridge a $629 million shortfall.

This new round was necessary, officials have said, because they underestimated the costs of an early-retirement program and overestimated the amount of savings they could get from reopening union contracts, among other things.

Contact staff writer Anthony Campisi at 215-854-5015, acampisi@phillynews.com, or @campisia on Twitter.
Inquirer staff writer Kristen A. Graham contributed to this article.