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Countdown, Day 14: Most noontime aides rehired; asst. principals to be recalled soon

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The School District has recalled 1,109 noontime aides — rebranded "school safety officers" by their union — which is just about all of those who had been laid off and had not chosen to leave or retire.

Altogether, according to a document made public Monday, District officials used the $50 million in additional funds promised by the city to restore 907 positions, including some counselors, teachers, and others. That came on top of 742 positions that had been restored with $33 million that Superintendent William Hite eked out of his existing budget, for a total of 1,649.

Among those being recalled are 45 assistant principals, although none of them have yet been notified, according to Robert McGrogan, head of their bargaining unit.

With the $33 million in savings, the District recalled 212 three-hour aides and 212 four-hour aides — one for each school. With the $50 million, an additional 685 four-hour aides were recalled, largely due to school demands for more of them.

Still, some schools will have fewer aides than they had before. District spokesman Fernando Gallard said he did a spot check with certain high school principals and found that Martin Luther King High School would have 5 this year, compared to 12 last year; Northeast High would have 11, compared to 19, and South Philadelphia would have 6, compared to 9. Both Southern and King are receiving students from schools that were closed.

The union representing the aides, UNITE HERE!, issued a press release Friday saying that 1,157 of their members had been recalled. (A union spokesman said that they got a list from the District that had 1,157 names on it; the reason for the discrepancy could not be pinned down, but some of those members may have held other school-based positions.) The union had organized a fast by some of the workers, who were joined by parents and students. The fast had received national attention.

McGrogan said that he was getting worried that no assistant principals had yet been notified they were being recalled, saying it was getting perilously close to the opening of school. "Principals are calling me every day asking who will it be, when will I know," McGrogan said.

Schools with more than 850 students were able to hire one assistant principal; schools with more than 1,500 were able to hire two. Most smaller schools will not have an assistant principal.

Although the District gave no reason for the delay in recalling the assistant principals, the School Reform Commission suspended parts of the school code last week that allows it to recall employees not strictly according to seniority, meaning that it may take longer to determine who the individuals will be.

Gallard said that individual assistant principals will be notified Tuesday and Wednesday.

The total recalled includes 116 counselors — not enough to cover every school.

Even with the recalled workers, Gallard said, "we want to emphasize that we have a continued need for more resources."

The School District of Philadelphia faces an unprecedented situation – uncertainty over whether it will be in a position to open safe and functioning schools in September.

This feature, appearing each weekday, is an effort to highlight developments and motivate action as we get closer to the beginning of the school year. We encourage readers to send us information about both concerns and breakthroughs to

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