By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s public school principals have voted to accept a deep pay cut and to begin paying toward their health care benefits.

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With mailed-in ballots counted today, 83 percent of the union’s membership voted to accept the contract concessions that amount to a 16-percent pay cut.

Principals would be paid as ten- instead of 12-month employees, and they will begin paying health care premiums.

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Rob McGrogan, president of the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators, says the fear among members was that the district would test its powers to impose a contract if they didn’t agree on concessions.

“I know the district’s beginning position on many issues and I know where ours were.  And we were terribly far apart on many.  Through negotiation and compromise on both parties’ part, we were to arrive at something that was worthy of presenting to the members,” he said today.

The School Reform Commission is expected to approve the contract at Thursday night’s meeting.  The cash-starved school district has pressed its unions for a total of $133 million in concessions — but so far there’s no agreement with its largest union, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.  The concessions from the principals amounts to about $20 million of the total sought.

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