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Principals ratify contract that includes big salary and health-care concessions

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by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

Members of the union representing Philadelphia School District principals have ratified a new three-year contract that includes significant salary and health-care concessions.

The deal will save the District $20 million over the life of the agreement.

Of members who cast ballots, 83 percent voted to ratify.

The new contract will take most District administrators from a 12-month schedule to a 10-month schedule, cutting their base salaries by about 16 percent.

Philadelphia principals used to start at $124,900 and top out at $149,900; that will change to $97,000 to $124,900.

Assistant principals used to start at $106,000 and top out at $133,000. Now it will range from $88,500 to $110,000.

"We're making extraordinary concessions, and that's difficult," said Robert McGrogan, president of Commonwealth Association of School Administrators (CASA). "The decision, basically, was a responsible and selfless one from administrators that will help change the financial trajectory of the District."

CASA's more than 450 members include principals, assistant principals, and non-administrative positions such as school police sergeants.

All principals and assistant principals going from a 12-month schedule to a 10-month schedule will be eligible to work 15 days in August to make up some of their lost base salary.

Ten of these days will be for summer reorganization and five for professional development. In the contract that just expired, administrators were expected to work all 22 days in August, a month in which vacation was disallowed. This work time was covered by administrators' year-round salaries. 

Exactly how much an administrator can earn in August will be determined by position. Principals on the top end of the pay scale can make back $8,500 this year.

In the second year of the deal, the District is only guaranteeing 13 days in August; in the third year, 10 days.

Breaking it down for this year, principals and APs will see an average salary reduction of about 11 percent after taking August pay into account.

As examples:

A principal at the top end of the pay scale had been earning $149,900. The new deal sets their base pay at $124,900. Counting the $8,500 in August pay, the principal will in total earn $133,400.  This reduction of $16,500 represents a roughly 11 percent decrease in total earnings.

An assistant principal on the bottom end of the pay scale had been earning $106,287. The new deal sets base pay at $88,570. The AP will be eligible to make an additional $6,150 by working 15 days in August, creating a total earnings of $94,720. This reduction of $11,567 also shows an 11 percent decrease in total earnings.

Principals at the District-led turnaround schools, known as Promise Academies, will stay at a 12-month pay schedule.

The agreement freezes across-the-board salary increases for three years. However, eligible employees will receive a "half-step" pay bump on Jan. 1, 2016, and another on Aug. 31, 2016.

Effectively, this gives eligible CASA members a 1.5 percent pay increase twice over the life of the deal.

A joint District-CASA committee will develop a new performance-based compensation system to replace the existing one. CASA members must be rated "proficient" or "distinguished" in performance evaluations to be eligible for a raise.

Administrators will also have to pay into their health care for the first time. Effective July 1, CASA members will begin paying a 7 percent share of their premiums. By the final year of the contract, they will pay 8 percent.

Most of the other terms of the contract will be applied retroactively to Sept. 1, 2013. The change from a 12-month to 10-month pay schedule will be made retroactive to March 1, 2014 – a major sticking point in recent negotiations that McGrogan says saved money for his members and helped "build a financial bridge ... sturdy enough for us to walk across."

CASA members will see salary reductions in their next paychecks.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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