MORE THAN 140 staffers are getting a holiday surprise from the Philadelphia School District.
Unfortunately, it's a layoff notice.
The notices will go out today to 141 employees, including 47 nurses and dozens of other nonteaching positions, according to the district.
"I think it's disgraceful," said layoff victim Michele Perloff, 47, who has worked as a nurse at the J. Hampton Moore School, in Northeast Philadelphia, for four years. "I think it's awful to do it right at this time."
District spokesman Fernando Gallard, noting the timing of the layoffs, called them "very difficult but unavoidable."
"These layoffs are part of our effort to stabilize the district and, while the timing is unfortunate, delaying these actions will only exacerbate the problem," he said.
The layoff notices result from $15 million in cuts unveiled by the district at the beginning of the month, including a cut of about 1.4 percent for each school's discretionary budget.
Eliminating nurses saved the district about $5 million.
It's likely not the last set of layoff notices to go out this school year, as the district continues to cut its way out of a more than $629 million deficit.
"I find it reprehensible that schools, which already made drastic program and personnel cuts last spring because of severely reduced budgets, have again been told by the administration to cut staff members who play vital roles protecting students' safety, security, health and well-being every day," Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said in a statement.
Jordan said that the PFT would challenge the layoffs "using every legal means available."
Parents, teachers, nurses and others have made impassioned pleas at every School Reform Commission meeting since the cuts were announced, arguing against slicing budgets in the middle of a school year.
"We're trying to stabilize things enough this year so we can avoid more of this going forward," SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos said at last week's SRC meeting. "There are no good cuts left."