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Council resolution: Hold up school funding until 32BJ settlement is reached

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 24, 2012 05:38 PM

Backed by 10 of her colleagues, City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez introduced a resolution Thursday saying that Council should hold up any action on the School District's budget until a labor agreement is reached with SEIU Local 32BJ District 1201.

This came a day after Local 32BJ, the District's blue-collar union, held a huge rally and blocked traffic on Broad Street protesting 2,700 layoff notices to its members and other education cuts. Several City Council members attended the rally.

The District is counting on $94 million in additional revenue from City Council to keep its projected budget shortfall next year in the $200 million range rather than $300 million – a sum that would make it much harder to borrow the money needed to keep the schools open.

That proposed budget also counts on significant union concessions. Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen said that he needs to wring $50 million out of maintenance, cleaning, and transportation costs – either by renegotiating the contract with Local 32BJ or replacing the District employees with outside contractors.

Quiñones-Sánchez said in a statement that she and her colleagues "completely understand the difficult financial situation at the School District, but we are extremely concerned about the situation facing SEIU's members, who drive our kids to school, keep our schools clean and safe, and themselves live in Philadelphia. We do not want them to become the victims of our budget limitations."

Both sides have agreed that the two sides are still talking; union leaders said they have offered significant concessions.

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Comments (21)

Submitted by Howard T. (not verified) on May 24, 2012 6:36 pm

City Council comes to the rescue, thank God. Knudsen is a piece of, well you know.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 24, 2012 9:56 pm

Well, that's $50 more million that the District will have to come up with. Is the City going to withhold money from the schools when I lose my teaching job because of the deficit?

Submitted by anon (not verified) on May 24, 2012 9:45 pm

very noble thought on your part

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 25, 2012 9:59 am

Wow way to be compasionate to your fellow union members that work with you each day. Do you know what it is like to come to work everyday with a layoff notice in your hand? Nobody cares until it is their job on the line! We are going to lose no matter what. We are going to be forced to give back wages and benefits. That is best case. Worst case is no job. Happy Holiday to you......HEARTLESS......

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 25, 2012 10:27 am

I was saying this as a hypothetical. I have no idea if my job is on the line. The school district has a set amount of money. The District does not have the money to meet payroll in 2012-2013 with the same number of employees who now have increased pay and benefits that it had in 2011-2012. Some employees be it 32BJ, PFT, CASA, etc. are going to have to give up money or lose jobs under the current budget (this wasn't an attack on 32BJ).

My Point Was City Council Needs To Put Its Money Where Its Mouth Is. If they want 32BJ and all District workers to have good wages they can't withhold money but they need to put more money up to make that happen. It's also completely ceremonial since under state law the city has to give as much money this year as they gave last year to the District so they can't legally withhold it.

So, not heartless, we all lose unless we can convince the state that we need to fund our current staff and increase staff so that we can decrease class size. Remember, Philadelphia staff is a good deal. We cost a lot less than suburban employees.

Submitted by bobsuruncle (not verified) on May 25, 2012 1:51 pm

Do not take for granted the heating/air conditioning, trash removal, lights, repairs, clean restrooms and yes even toilet paper. Without engineering, cleaning and maintenance, you, your students, administrators, colleagues and parents would be most uncomfortable.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 25, 2012 4:28 pm

I don't take it for granted. I've had great 32BJ staff in my building and lazy ones. They run the gamut. I'm not calling for them to be fired or their contract canceled. I would like to the lazy ones forced to be better or fired but that's the same for teachers, principals, and administrators of all sorts.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 25, 2012 5:38 pm

You are a certified BOOB !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 24, 2012 11:00 pm

They're trying to be supportive by witholding money?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 25, 2012 7:53 am

Yes, they're trying to help us build character by denying us our rights and life needs. It's all about the kids.

Submitted by joe (not verified) on May 25, 2012 9:48 am

at least it's good to see city council standing up to something and putting their voice in. They have been silent for too long.

Submitted by philly mom (not verified) on May 25, 2012 11:42 am

It's sad that our kids have to wait while the adults fight out their problems. The one time Council gets involved in this discussion, its to take a stand for adults, not kids. This is the problem with our public education system. At the end of the day, its always about politicians and unions and bureaucrats fighting about their needs. I hate that people have to lose their jobs, but if we continue to put adult concerns first, our kids will continue to lose.

Submitted by anon (not verified) on May 25, 2012 2:30 pm

actually, a lot of what us adults are fighting for does also benefit the kids. whether that's altruistic on our part or coincidental, you can decide for yourself, but our goals are not that far apart. believe me, you do want fully staffed nurses and counselors and professional bus drivers and experienced maintenance engineers, etc who can do their work with dignity while earning a living wage to be the people working with and around your children.
i read an article recently that said it very succinctly but the author eludes me. perhaps someone remembers and has the link.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 25, 2012 5:01 pm

The adults are fighting for the rights of kids, moron.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 25, 2012 2:57 pm

THANK YOU CITY COUNCIL,32BJ THANKS YOU !!!!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 25, 2012 6:54 pm

There are plenty of ways to save money without cutting the actual workers/Teachers. Simply cut the FAT and stop GIVING nonsense high paying jobs to Politician's kids. Oh, and of course pay bills on time... Hold ALL of the SDP leaders accountable! Can't lead an organized department? FIRED! Can't manage a budget? FIRED!! All the SDP does is shuffle these idiots around or even promote them.- FACT. The SDP pays a 41% mark-up on materials because they are unorganized and can't pay bills on time. Also, the number of Cleaners, Engineers and Maintenance Mechanics are at an all time low. Some Departments are less than 50% of what they were 25 years ago. Yet, there is more "Management" than ever. All of which have phones and cars, paid for by the SDP. Why is that? I have also seen small schools that have a Principle and two Assistants... Why??? Some Schools have 4-5 Administrators for summer school...WHY? I can go on and on...This is all FACT!!!! Cut the Fat, not the productive areas. I firmly believe that work rules need to change to allow easier removal of poor workers/teachers/Administrators.

Submitted by Sharon Newman Ehrlich (not verified) on May 26, 2012 2:01 pm

PHILADELPHIA NEEDS TO BE ASHAMED OF ITSELF CALLING THEMSELVES A SCHOOL DISTRICT. YOU DO NOT SUPPORT YOUR SCHOOLS. ALL YOU DO IS LOOK FOR WAYS TO BALANCE YOUR BUDGET WITHOUT ANY INPUT FROM THE SCHOOLS AND THEIR STAFF.

NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO TALK ABOUT HOW TO MAKE IT WORK??? WHAT HAPPENED TO DEMOCRACY??? WHAT HAPPENED TO SHARED DECISION MAKING???

ANOTHER PROBLEM IS THAT MANY PARENTS DO NOT COME INTO THEIR SCHOOLS TO SEE WHAT IS GOING ON. AND THEN THEY DO WHAY THEY WANT WITH THEIR CHILDREN.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SCHOOL DISTRICT PARENT ENGAGEMENT CENTER...ARLENE HAD ONE..NOW IT'S GONE...WHO NEEDS PARENTS...THEY ARENT A PART OF OUR PLAN TO GET RICH IN EDUCATION.

I LOST ANOTHER FORMER STUDENT TODAY..HE WAS SHOT...GO HOME AND REST SRC, SUPERINTENDENT WITHOUT ANY EDUCATION EXPERIENCE....IT DOESNT MATTER..JUST ONE LESS 26 YEAR OLD MARRIED WITH CHILDREN...TO WORRY ABOUT..

SHAME SHAME SHAME

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 26, 2012 3:16 pm

Surprise surprise. Cit council doing the bidding of heir union paymasters.

So quinones idea is to shut down the schoolsntil the seiu gets the deal it wants? Good on. A least council can admit openly hat the school district exists primarily for the purpose o patronage jibs and campaign contributions from unions.

Or does she just wan taxpayers tol chip in he extra 50mm?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 27, 2012 7:09 pm

Try learning English Grammar?

Submitted by Engineer (not verified) on May 31, 2012 8:30 am

I read all these articles and here I sit In LIMBO! My cleaning staff, myself, the entire school atmosphere for the last year has made us a disheartened group. Are we the "Walking Dead ?" Our lay-off letters came last July. How does one motivate people who are ear tagged for termination. We take pride in our building and it shows on our building's academic production rating, #1. The children always come first and always will. How should I respond when a child asks," Are you getting fired Mr. Matt"?
"Who is going to replace your team?" "When is your Lay-off?", from the teachers.
Just about every day hearing these things and still coming in and doing my best is a very stressful thing in itself. To be strung along so someome can pad their pockets is not the American Drean I was working all these years for. With all the everyday issues to get around without complaining, this is the ultimate slap in the face. Yet I turn the other cheek and keep my smile for the children who are the ones I really get up and go to work for. GOD PLEASE BLESS EVERYONE AND PLEASE LET THE LIGHT OF YOUR WISDOM OPEN THEIR EYES!

Submitted by Concerned Employee (not verified) on May 31, 2012 6:06 pm

How come the questions are not being asked regarding the administrators that were ten month employees and went to being twelve month employees to cover summer programs last year before Ackerman was released and now the school district says there will be no summer programs unless needed for graduation credits, what are these administrators going to do? Watch the cleaners do the summer cleaning? Why aren't they asked to cut back to ten months again? For example if there is 200 administators at $20,000 a piece theres a $400,000 savings just from that. Thats only an estimate of administrators of course with the number probably on the higher side.

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