Phila. principals are asked to take 15 percent pay cut

SRC chief Bill Green signaled he would use panel's special powers.
SRC chief Bill Green signaled he would use panel's special powers. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 08, 2014

PHILADELPHIA The Philadelphia School District wants its principals to take a pay cut of about 15 percent and begin paying toward their health benefits.

Now year-round employees, the principals would become 10-month workers according to the terms of a contract presented to them Thursday night by their union.

Commonwealth Association of School Administrators chief Robert McGrogan said the three-year deal was far from perfect.

But "despite the many shortcomings of this contract, based on the current circumstances, it is one that I completely endorse," McGrogan said in an interview.

Even if the principals reject the deal, negotiations are over, officials said.

"If this contract is not something that the members accept," McGrogan said, "a rejection would lead the district to implement whatever changes it feels is necessary to find savings going into next year."

With the schools in dire financial shape, the district has budgeted $130 million in savings over five years from the principals' union and four other district unions, including the largest, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. New School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green has signaled that he is willing to invoke the SRC's special powers to impose terms on unions with which it cannot reach deals.

The principals' contract is seen as a test case for the teachers' contract, currently being negotiated.

Under the principals' contract, McGrogan said, the average assistant principal or principal would take a pay cut of 12 percent to 17 percent because of the switch to working 10 months. The cut would be higher, but administrators would receive some pay for working time in August to get schools ready for students, and for professional development.

People inside the meeting at Lincoln High School said principals would be paid for 15 days in August.

The district has asked PFT for 13 percent salary cuts on top of working more time, according to its opening contract proposal, obtained by The Inquirer. Teachers are already 10-month employees, but would be asked to work a longer school day.

Those at the principals' meeting described it as contentious.

"There were strong opinions on both sides," said McGrogan, who added that he was not sure which way the vote would go.

One member at the meeting described the proposal as "very depressing. This is a big hit, not an attractive contract at all."

The administrator, who asked to remain anonymous, said some in the 500-member union were upset because principals at Promise Academies, which are district-run turnaround schools, would remain 12-month employees and therefore not take a salary hit.

The administrator is planning to vote to reject the contract.

"They're taking everything from us," the administrator said. "And we're getting nothing in return."

Another administrator didn't like the contract, but said the alternative - the district imposing terms - was much worse.

"It's not a good deal, but it's the best we're going to get," the administrator said. "The teachers are going to get a much worse deal. We've never seen conditions like this."

Principals would take a pay cut of at least $20,000 under the proposal. They now make from $124,000 to $149,000. If the contract is approved, that would shift to $97,000 to $124,000. Assistant principals are paid $106,000 to $133,000. That would change to $88,000 to $110,000.

The district is coping with unprecedented cuts. Many schools lack basic supplies, full-time counselors, nurses, and other support staff. Classes are larger. Many assistant principals were laid off at the end of last year.

A district spokeswoman said there would be no comment until the votes are tallied.

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