Philly school district to suspend seniority tomorrow

This was the game plan all along, of course:

Still lacking sufficient funds to open fully staffed schools on Sept. 9, Superintendent William Hite will ask the School Reform Commission to suspend parts of the state school code at a special meeting Thursday.

Many of the changes involve provisions governing labor practices. The District is seeking to bypass seniority rules as it restores positions and calls back laid-off workers. It also wants the ability to put at least a temporary halt on automatic pay increases based on longevity — called “steps”– for professional staff.

“We are in an untenable position,” said Hite in an interview Wednesday afternoon. The requested changes, he said, will give the District more flexibility “to grapple with a budget that does not adequately support schools.”

Other requested changes would allow the District to hire licensed nurses who are not specifically certified as school nurses. Hite said that no current school nurses would be displaced, but that vacancies could be filled with nurses who would not be paid as much.

Hite also wants the SRC to suspend a requirement about “independent school employees” so that teachers at the District’s new virtual school would not have to be part of the collective bargaining unit.

The District is currently in negotiations with both its teacher and principal bargaining units, whose contracts expire on Aug.31. Hite repeated several times that seeking these code changes will give him more tools to make ends meet and staff schools adequately, and are not related to the contract talks.

But one byproduct is that he could achieve some goals the District is seeking in the negotiations through this means, including a weakening of seniority and elimination of automatic raises based on longevity.

“Professional employees get salary increases, required purely on the fact that they are here another year,” Hite said. “This would allow the District to say, OK, we’re not giving increases that way, instead we’re giving increases based on performance.

3 thoughts on “Philly school district to suspend seniority tomorrow

  1. So they create a climate where its implied that teachers are responsible for the financial crisis in education and for the dismal performance of some kids (could this be related to the fact that teachers are not allowed to discipline or fail students, and the parents will defend their kids’ laziness…?), and then say that pay increases will be based on “performance”. What bullsh*t. Who judges what is a good performance? Test results? Final grades? Again, with students not being held responsible for their own learning, and parents who will not back the teachers up at home, what I see is teachers who try, Try, TRY, and then sit in their cars after school and cry, or drink, or who destroy their marriages…. And (well-payed) politicians with half the education of a teacher smugly say, “You dont deserve a raise”.

  2. And yes, I see that I made two spelling and one grammatical error in that paragraph. I guess that means I don’t deserve a pay raise. But English is my third language -I wonder how many languages the Superintendent and Trustees know?

  3. Shades of things to come for everyone. Obama has had a unilateral freeze on federal cost of living pay raises for longer than I can remember. Next up removing the step raises in the GS pay scales. Incentives are only for the masters, at least the positive incentives. No carrots for the plebes, just the stick and the lash and eventual starvation, untreated medical problems and homelessness.

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