By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Mayor Nutter appointed seven new members to the Community College of Philadelphia’s Board of Trustees, including himself and a few others working in his administration.
Sitting through his first board meeting Thursday evening at the school’s Mint building, Mayor Nutter expressed interest as topics like Pell grants, policy from Harrisburg, and a grant given by the U.S. Department of Transportation came up. He says his interest in education was the only reason why he appointed himself and some key aides to help fill some of the seven vacant spots of the 15 member board.
“It’s not an overhaul at all,” he said.
“In accordance with the guidelines there is periodic turnover of board members. The board members have terms, we had a few people resign and some others did not reapply when their terms had ended. This is just standard operating procedure.”
However, Mayor Nutter becomes the first mayor in recent history to appoint himself to the CCP board. He said he is only one member of the board and they would work together.
“Working in conjunction with the President, the faculty, the unions and everyone else just to create an educational environment that is most open, most welcoming and supportive of the most supportive people here, which are the students,” Nutter said.
School President Dr. Stephen Curtis said the Mayor’s involvement will be positive.
“He has been the most vocal mayor, I’m aware of, in terms of the need for education and he’s tried to do things about it,” he said.
Curtis, who has been president since 1999, was asked about his fate because there had been rumblings he himself may be soon on his way out.
“Never heard a single one of those rumors,” he said.
Also in attendance at the board meeting, John Braxton and Stephen Jones, co-presidents of the Faculty and Staff Federation of Community College of Philadelphia. The union represents full and part-time faculty and other school employees. They have been working without a new contract since August 2011.
“Glad to see the Mayor now on board. We have to think that has to be good for the college, Braxton said. “In particular for us, we have a labor dispute that has been going on. We hope that the involvement of the mayor means we can move forward.”
Braxton described their relationship with the board’s negotiators as “cordial” but expressed disappointment an agreement has not been reached, one of the sticking points, the union says, is the issue of paying for healthcare.
“Unfortunately the reason why we’re stuck right now is they’ve put an offer in front of us that they said they’re not interested in budging off of,” Jones said.
The Mayor, when asked about the negotiations, wouldn’t comment specifically about involvement in talks but said they would try to move forward.