Philly principals to vote on contract deal with significant concessions

    The president of the union representing Philadelphia School District principals has reached a tentative agreement with the district on the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement that includes significant concessions that “clearly will save the district money.”

    Commonwealth Association of School Administrators president Robert McGrogan will present the proposed deal to union members at a private meeting Thursday evening.

    “Prior to this past week, I didn’t have a proposal that was worthy of bringing it to the membership,” said McGrogan. “Compromise from both parties on key issues is what put us in this position.”

    The tentative deal was hammered out late Friday evening. McGrogan would not disclose specific details of the plan, but gave this summation: “Not everything is a dollar issue, though there’s a lot of dollars in this.”

    CASA’s nearly 500 members – principals, assistant principals, school police hierarchy and other administrators – learned about the meeting through email on Saturday.

    The potential deal cannot be ratified without a majority of member approval.

    CASA’s contract expired on Aug. 31.

    The school district has been seeking $133 million in savings from its five labor unions. It’s been seeking $103 million from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, by far its largest labor partner. (The PFT contract also expired Aug. 31.)

    McGrogan alerted teachers union president Jerry Jordan of his intention early Saturday morning. Jordan declined to comment for this story.

    McGrogan characterized the notion of holding out for a better offer as unrealistic.

    “I really feel that a lot of people are out of contact with the context of the situation on a whole,” he said. “The district is not going to continue spending the money the way that it is, on the things that it is, and that includes its employees.”

    School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green has repeatedly said he believes that the district can and should impose contracts on its labor unions if agreements can’t be reached.

    “It’s more than just words,” said McGrogan. “We’re approaching a new fiscal year, and come July 1, there needs to be a new way that things are being done, whether we agree to it or not.”

    If, hypothetically, CASA members reject this deal, and then the district imposes a contract, McGrogan didn’t rule out the possibility of a lawsuit.

    But he said that scenario, in the end, would result in a worse outcome for his members.

    “A negotiated settlement is better than … any arbitrator’s ruling,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to arrive at a better agreement than we have at this time.”

    McGrogan says his rationale for presenting this deal will be evident once the details are made public.

    The closed meeting will take place Thursday at 5:30pm at Lincoln High School at 3201 Ryan Ave. in Northeast Philadelphia.

    Citing scheduling conflicts with some of his members, McGrogan could not guarantee that the vote will take place Thursday. It will happen then, or in the days “shortly after,” he said.

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