Hundreds of members of the Council of Schools Supervisors and Administrators rallied outside City Hall Park Oct. 30 for a contract that includes a paid-parental-leave benefit and would address Principals’ growing concerns about school safety.
Advocates from the United Federation of Teachers, District Council 37 and the AFL-CIO New York City Central Labor Council showed up to support the school leaders, whose contract expired April 20. CSA President Mark Cannizzaro spoke of the increasing workload and pressure faced by Principals, Assistant Principals and Superintendents.
‘Take You for Granted’
“While you’re busy doing everything the DOE has asked you to do, despite the roadblocks they place in front of you, we are at the bargaining table hearing that all of your extra time and effort is worth nothing because you do it anyway,” he told the attendees, many of whom wore white caps that said “Great Schools Begin With Great Leaders.”
Principals often found themselves pulled out of their schools for training, Mr. Cannizzaro said, and faced barriers when they tried to hire an Assistant Principal to help out.
Jeff Engel, Assistant Principal at Long Island City High School and a member of CSA’s executive board, said that the workload for APs had become intense because they were in charge of Teacher evaluations that needed to be done in a timely manner. Pay wasn’t the major focus during the rally: Principals were instead concerned about school safety, and many believed that their power has been eroded thanks to micromanagement.
“There needs to be a way for Principals to staff schools appropriately,” Mr. Engel said. “It was disappointing to come back to school in September without an agreement.”
Short on Security
Roderick Palton, Principal of Brooklyn’s P.S. K140, added that some schools have had difficulty hiring more School Safety Agents, with some buildings having just one, which caused problems when there were multiple incidents going on simultaneously.
“We want to make sure that schools have the budget that they need,” he said.
Mr. Cannizzaro cited a CSA survey in which 70 percent of members reported that they believed their schools didn’t have enough resources. Only 28 percent believed that the Department of Education was going in the right direction.
The union was also seeking a parental-leave deal not unlike the June 2018 agreement the UFT negotiated after an aggressive campaign that granted its 120,000 members six weeks of parental leave at full salary. But Mr. Cannizzaro said that the city has over-estimated how much the benefit would cost.
“It’s disgraceful for the city to profit from our members trying to raise a family,” he said.
Support From ‘372’
Donald Nesbit, executive vice president of District Council 37’s Local 372, which represents School Crossing Guards and school lunch staff, said it was unacceptable that school leaders could not take care of their own children. “We stand with you because you make sure that we’re safe and that the children are safe,” he said.
City Council Member Mark Treyger, who chairs the Education Committee, stated that the DOE could not achieve its “equity and excellence” agenda without a fair contract for school leaders. He noted that many of Mayor de Blasio’s successful education initiatives, including his signature Pre-K For All program, would not have been possible “without the amazing members of CSA.”
City Hall spokeswoman Laura Feyer said that the de Blasio administration “looked forward to reaching a voluntary settlement with the CSA like we have with over 68 percent of the city’s workforce for this round of bargaining.”
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