Philly hunger strikers break fast in light of eleventh-hour budget deal

After Sunday’s last-minute budget deal was signed in Harrisburg, Philadelphia parents and community members on a 15-day hunger strike announced they would start eating again this afternoon.

Supporters marched from Governor Corbett’s Philadelphia office to the School District of Philadelphia administrative building, pushing fasters in wheelchairs. 

Fasters sipped on apple juice after prayer and songs. For district employee Juanita Jones, it’s the first thing she’s had other than water in two weeks.  “Like heaven,” she laughed. “Wonderful.”

Yesterday’s budget deal garnered some $127 million in funds for schools. Jones and other fasters said now all eyes are on the school district to see how the money will be used.

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The strike was started to put pressure on the state to avoid the roughly 3,800 district layoffs that were expected to go into effect today. The details of yesterday’s budget deal are still unclear, particularly how it will affect the planned layoffs.

The school district has not confirmed whether or not the layoffs will still go into effect. Mayor Nutter told reporters this afternoon that even he still wasn’t sure what the deal meant for Philadelphia schools. 

The school district issued a statement saying it appreciates the money coming from Harrisburg, and will work to provide a high-quality education with the funding available.  But the statement did not address whether layoffs can be averted.

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