(Philadelphia) -- The U.S. secretary of education is urging state lawmakers to help the cash-strapped Philadelphia school district.
Secretary Arne Duncan says he's instructed his staff to provide any needed technical assistance to avert what he called an "educational crisis."
The district is facing a $304 million deficit. Officials have laid off 3,800 employees, from assistant principals to secretaries. That's about 20 percent of the total staff.
Duncan issued his statement Tuesday evening, a few days after American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten implored him to intervene.
A rescue package proposed at the state Capitol could total $141 million for the district, but the state isn't providing all the money. The city must borrow some funds and collect delinquent taxes.
Some of the bailout measures are awaiting the governor's signature.
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