Pa. Mulls Philly Schools Takeover


Thursday, October 26th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — As Philadelphia teachers prepared to walk off the job Friday over stalled contract talks, the governor said he would consider a state takeover of the city schools if the mayor requests it.

Gov. Tom Ridge and Mayor John F. Street prefer a negotiated settlement but are not likely to tolerate a lengthy strike.

The teachers' old contract expired Sept. 1 and they have been working under terms imposed by the city.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is chafing at the new rules, which raise co-payments and deductibles for health insurance. The teachers also oppose the district's decision to lengthen the work day and school year starting next September.

Street has asked City Council to allot up to $45 million from the city's surplus for an enhanced teachers' contract.

Street met with the governor on Wednesday about the possibility of a takeover.

``I told the mayor I would have to give it very, very strong consideration if he asked me, and I assured him that it would certainly be friendly,'' Ridge said.

State law allows the governor to take over the city's schools if the school board does not produce a valid budget or state officials determine that the city is not adequately educating pupils.

Ridge wants a contract that includes significant education reforms, saying it will help the city make its case for winning more school funds from the state Legislature.

Teachers announced Monday that they plan to walk off the job at the end of the day Friday unless a contract agreement is reached.

Street and school district negotiators last met with union leaders Tuesday night.

The city had canceled a Wednesday afternoon negotiating session, saying it needed more time to work on a new contract proposal, and the union failed to show up for a scheduled session that night.

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On the Net:

Philadelphia schools: http://www.philsch.k12.pa.us

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers: http://www.pft.org