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Faces of the school district layoffs collected online

A new website, Facesofthelayoffs.org, catalogues the mugs and stories of laid-off employees.

Faces and the stories of the school district workers laid-off in the past two weeks. Photo courtesy of facesofthelayoffs.org. The faces and stories of the school district workers laid off in the last two weeks. Credit: facesofthelayoffs.org.

These are their faces.

Many wear smiles. Some sit at their desk. Some pose with completed projects, others with students.

Most seem oblivious to the fate that awaits them on July 1.

Meet some of the 3,859 teachers, counselors, secretaries and assistant principals who were slipped pink. They are the faces of the layoffs.

A new website, facesofthelayoffs.org, catalogues their mugs and stories. The goal is to force lawmakers to restore funding and restore the lost jobs. And they want the city, state and school district to look at them as people, and not numbers.

Larissa Pahomov had the idea. The Science Leadership Academy English teacher still has her job, but she wanted to honor one of her fellow educators who lost hers. The site is operated by a handful of full-time teachers.

"One thing the site is hopefully doing is showing people all of the different types of employees that it takes to make a successful school community," she said. "We want people to see that all of these people are essential and it's happening in every school building in Philadelphia."

Monday was SLA's graduation. "And normally this would be a time for celebration," Pahomov said, "And really it's a time almost of dread."

She explained that when people hear the number of layoffs, "You think, 'Oh, wow, that's a lot of teachers.'

"But you don't connect with a number," she said. "You connect with a story."

The site has 153 entries posted so far and counting. There have been more than 300,000 hits on the site as of 3:30 p.m. Monday.

The school district's $304 million budget gap is supposed to be closed with a combination of a $2 cigarette tax, the liquor-by-the-drink tax, $120 million in state funding and a combination of teachers union concessions and stronger delinquent tax collections.

But the liquor-by-the-drink tax has stalled in the City Council. The State House must approve the cigarette tax. The state says it doesn't have the $120 million. The City Council's budget is due June 30.

Robert Rawlings was shocked. The new father who taught history at Girls’ High for four years was blindsided by his notice. But the website offers support.

"It makes you feel like you're not alone," he said.

 
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