TEACHERS AT Olney Charter High School learned yesterday that school administrators are expected to slash 36 jobs due to a deficit, the Daily News has learned.
Additionally, Olney Principal Jose LeBron's contract was not renewed by the school's charter operator, ASPIRA Inc. of Pennsylvania, multiple sources familiar with the situation told the People Paper. LeBron, a former school district principal, has worked at Olney since it opened as a charter in 2011.
Earlier in the day, LeBron held a morning meeting and informed staff that a $2.3 million budget gap would result in the loss of 22 teachers and 14 noninstructional positions from the high school, according to teachers at the meeting.
The teachers, who with other school staff voted to unionize in April, were incensed with ASPIRA, teachers said. They headed over to rally against the cuts in front of ASPIRA headquarters, on 5th Street near Bristol in North Philadelphia.
"My gut feeling is that they are doing it to retaliate for our union organizing and they're trying to eliminate positions," said Ellie Sammons, a 12th grade civics and psychology teacher, holding a sign. "With those positions go strong, active teachers."
Teachers at other ASPIRA schools have secured contracts and raises while Olney staffers have been promised contracts but have yet to receive them, teachers say.
"If I don't know what I'm teaching next year, how am I supposed to spend a minute of my summer planning for that instructional time?" asked Drew Harris, a 10th and 11th grade English teacher.
Olney's Alliance of Charter School Employees has yet to be certified by the National Labor Relations Board. It was supposed to be certified in early May, but ASPIRA officials challenged the authority of the federal board to oversee the union vote.
The NLRB regional director's decision on the matter is pending.
ASPIRA's new spokeswoman, Emma Restrepo, said in statement: "Olney is working to have its teacher contracts in the mail over the weekend so that our teachers have them early next week. We apologize for this delay."
Meanwhile, the Olney group's parent union, the American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania, issued a statement last night from its president, Ted Kirsch.
ASPIRA is "crying poor after spending tens of thousands of dollars on union-busting [that] has left the staff at Olney understandably enraged," Kirsch said.