Vigil held on eve of Philadelphia schools opening day

PHILADELPHIA - September 8, 2013

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett was nowhere near his Center City office Sunday evening but dozens of people organized by the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools were hoping he would get the message.

This comes on the eve of the first day of school for Philadelphia public school children.

"My concern is the children who come into that building, the children in these low income neighborhoods who don't have the support," said Kia Hinton, parent.

Governor Corbett said he would release $45 million in funding to the district, if real reform is made.

It starts with concessions from the teachers union - $103 million worth of givebacks including pay cuts and healthcare contributions.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has asked for all of the nearly 4,000 laid off workers to be reinstated.

"In the proper environment, our students thrive and they are safe, there's no bullying and they can learn," said Alexandria Davis, former teacher.

The union has proposed a one year salary freeze instead of cuts and making contributions to healthcare premiums.

Demonstrators also marched to City Hall. Mayor Michael Nutter has promised $50 million to the district but says the concessions the union proposed are not enough.

"The schools are just going to become the minimum necessary standard to just get through and kids aren't going to learn and that's my fear. I want my son to be in a school environment that he loves, where he loves learning," said Robert Kaplowitz, parent.

A spokesman for Governor Corbett says the governor is not holding anything up when it comes to the $45 million and he's committed to funding the district once reforms take place.

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