Monday, July 14, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Source: Fate of principals rests on shoulders of colleagues

Principals set to vote on second contract proposal at a meeting today

Source: Fate of principals rests on shoulders of colleagues

Updated 6:12p.m.: About two weeks after rejecting a proposal by the district, principal union members voted in favor of the same concessions just minutes ago.

Accepting the deal by a landslide - 173 to 64 - principals have avoided losing 27 assistant principals who were issued notices last week. But layoffs could still come down the pike.

No word yet from union president Robert McGrogan.

Updated 6:07p.m.: Still waiting on results. The votes are being tallied by union members and officials. Three-hundred principals and assistant principals showed up to vote, about 50 left of them after the vote was taken.  

Updated 6:00p.m.: A motion to vote has been made, but no word yet on the results.

Updated 5:48p.m.: Even with a favorable vote, principals could still face layoffs, said a principal from inside a union meeting at the Franklin Learning Center.

CASA members are being asked to consider the same concessions they voted down earlier this month. But now principals are faced with the threat of possible furloughs, the source said.

"That was never mentioned before, but now the district is saying if we agree, then they won't furlough for the duration of the contract," said the principal. 

Something else members have also taken issue with is the district's promise to rescind its threat to layoff 27 assistant principals who received notices last week, but offered no safeguard against future layoffs.  

Union officials are now fielding questions from members.

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Principals across the district are scheduled to meet this afternoon to vote on a second draft of contract amendments. A source within the union alerted me in an email of the meeting, which will take place at the Franklin Learning Center, at 5p.m. 

This isn't the first time members of the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators have had to vote on making concessions. Earlier this month, they shot down the first tentative deal brokered between district and union leaders. The proposal called for a delay in a 3 percent raise, and changes to healthcare contributions.

The following week, district officials issued 30 layoff notices to assistant principals and warned that if members continue to reject the givebacks, more reductions will occur. That day, officials from both sides met to discuss ways to spare these positions. 

The source, a principal at a North Philadelphia middle school, said that tonight's vote will determine whether the layoffs are certain. But it has also left many principals sour over what some believe is a ploy by the district to use the threat of layoffs as a bargaining chip. The district is looking to save $75 million in concessions from its five unions.  

"The sentiment among most of my colleagues is that we are merely pawns in the District's game of chess, just like half-day kindergarten," the source wrote in the email.

Later on in a phone conversation, the principal noted that members still don't want to take a chance.

"How do you take that risk?" the source asked. "I believe they might get the vote because we don't want our colleagues to lose their jobs."

No word yet from CASA president Robert McGrogan.

Although he could not provide details, district spokesman Fernando Gallard said "e put together a proposal that we really hope works for CASA and its members."

Meanwhile, the principal also lamented the union's failure to properly notify its members. Although there's a post about the meeting on CASA's website, most members were informed of the meeting through word of mouth.  

"That's not a good process of catching the people you need to make such an important decision," the principal said. "We should have a listserv."

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