The tentative contract with the Council of Supervisors and Administrators, announced yesterday by Mayor Bloomberg, represents significant progress in placing control of schools where it belongs - with the principals - and in truly putting the city's 1.1 million schoolchildren first. It is a deal that shows what two parties can do across the bargaining table if both are willing to give a little. Congratulations especially to the union's new president, Ernest Logan, for sealing the long-overdue deal.

The 23% raises called for in the pact must surely come as a relief to Logan's 4,500 members, who haven't had a contract since 2003 - and some of whom were actually in danger of earning less than the teachers they supervise. But more important than correcting that longtime inequity, the deal contains crucial and fundamental changes in the way schools are staffed.

Chancellor Joel Klein's reforms cast principals as the chief executive officers of their schools, and under this contract, they'll be paid like it. Beyond the pattern increases, principals will receive large bonuses - up to $25,000 - for good student performance, and for committing to turn around high-needs schools. They will be graded using the same accountability measures that will go into making up school report cards, the key yardstick being student progress. Principals whose kids don't learn will face the consequences.

Most important, principals will be fully able to pick their own staffs. Under this new pact, assistant principals whose schools close will no longer have bumping rights, able to claim jobs in other schools on the basis of seniority alone. These excessed APs will have to apply for openings and be judged equally with all other comers. Those who can't get rehired can be offered buyouts, potentially avoiding the situation that arose last September when Klein had to create make-work jobs for 44 excessed APs no one wanted.

With an expiration date of 2010, the contract will extend into the term of the next mayor, eliminating uncertainty among principals about the limits of their authority and responsibility. That promise of stability, coming on the heels of landmark changes in the teachers contract, will ensure that school reforms will continue long after Bloomberg is out of office.