Principals ratify pact with 16 percent pay cut

Posted: March 19, 2014

WITH ANOTHER financial crisis looming, the Philadelphia School District got some welcome news yesterday when its principals, assistant principals and other administrators ratified a three-year pact with major concessions estimated to save the district $20 million.

Members of Commonwealth Association of School Administrators Local 502 approved the deal in a mail-in vote, with 83 percent voting in favor. Under the agreement, retroactive to Sept. 1, each administrator will revert from a 12-month employee to a 10-month employee, resulting in pay cuts between 15 and 17 percent, and also will contribute to health-care premiums for the first time.

"That's a significant number [of favorable votes], but it's really not a cause for celebration," said union president Robert McGrogan, who was unsure what percentage of members voted. "That doesn't mean that 83 percent [liked the deal]. It was driven by concern over the present circumstances on a wide range of levels."

In need of $320 million in new revenue to maintain current staffing levels next year, the district was seeking $133 million in savings from its five unions. With a deal now in place for principals, the district's focus is squarely on the teachers union, which is being asked for roughly $100 million in savings.

Superintendent William Hite lauded the principals for their sacrifice, calling it "another example of their commitment to putting students' needs first."

"Our principals have endured significant hardships this school year due to our financial challenges, yet remained dedicated to students and families throughout the district," Hite said in a prepared statement.

The current salary scale for principals and assistant principals ranges from $106,000 to $149,900. Under the new pact, the range will drop to $88,570 to $124,900, McGrogan said. Administrators will receive compensation for days worked in August to prepare for school opening.

For medical plans, administrators will contribute 7 percent of the premiums starting July 1, going up to 8 percent the following year. They also will contribute $40 per pay period if they enroll a spouse in a district medical plan when the spouse has medical coverage available from another source. The district is eliminating an "opt-out" payment for administrators who decline medical benefits.

The contract also allows the district to consider factors other than seniority in the event of administrator layoffs and recalls - a key change sought as part of Hite's Action Plan 2.0.

McGrogan said he has received angry emails and messages from members who opposed the deal. He said he hopes the vote sends a message to elected officials.

"I also believe that those in the city and, of course, in the governor's mansion should take notice that our participation rate in this election was very high," he said, "and it will be again in the next election for governor."

On Twitter: @ChroniclesofSol

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