by Dejah Harley and Nicholas Murray
On June 7th, 2013, 3,783 employees from across the School District of Philadelphia were laid off effective June 30, 2013, sending those schools into chaos.
Although SLA wasn’t affected as badly as other schools, there were three staff members who lost their jobs: Guidance Counselor Zoe Siswick, College Counselor Karina Hirschfield, and School Secretary Diane LoGiudice.
When the three SLA employees got the news, they had to decide whether they were going to look for another job.
“I did have to put my resume out there and go on interviews,”Ms. Siswick said.
Ms. Hirschfield felt torn about her situation. “I tried to be hopeful but still had to expect the worst,” she said.
Ms. Diane was even more direct. If she hadn’t been rehired, “I don’t know what I would have done.”
Luckily, SLA got the opportunity to “buy back” these people at the end of the summer. The school district provided funds to individual schools to re-hire their staff members, and Principal Lehmann immediately got these three employees back.
Part of the reason they could be restored is that SLA is so small — all schools got back one secretary, so for SLA that meant a complete return.
With the counselors, SLA does not have any other support staff, and a second counselor was needed to help out at the new Beeber campus in West Philadelphia.
However nothing is completely set in stone. The School District is still having financial problems, and anybody who works at SLA could be laid off, once again, at any time.
Though they are happy to be back, they are also nervous and worried about what the future might bring.
“I don’t even want to think about next year,” Ms. Diane said.
All three of them also had a few choice words for the School District.
“What they are doing are hurting the children,” said Ms.Diane.
“Not having counselors can literally be deadly to the students”, said Ms. Siswick.
“Our children deserve more not less,” said Ms. Hirschfield.
Students at SLA feel incredibly grateful about having these staff members back.
“My head and heart would explode”, said Senior Ellen To responding to what life would be like without having these people back at SLA.
In response to what it would be like “I do not know what I would have done without Hirschfield. I would probably pray and cry and pray and cry,” said Senior Helen Kilmartin.