Teachers Approve Contract With Philly Schools

The deal includes retroactive pay and salaries increases – for the first time in five years. But there's some concern as to how the district will afford it.

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Photo | It’s Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

Unionized teachers have voted overwhelmingly to approve a contract agreement with the School District of Philadelphia.

The deal ends a bitter, four-year stalemate between the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers union and the school district. Plus, it means teachers will receive raises for the first time in five years. 

Roughly 95 percent of PFT members voted to approve the contract last night. According to NewsWorks, the $395 billion deal offers teachers retroactive pay (to make up for the lack of raises during the contract stalemate), largely through several lump sum payments and percentage bumps in salary. Salary increases will also be awarded based on years of experience and advanced degrees.

Union members will now (for the first time) contribute a percentage of their base salary toward their health premiums. Until 2019, members will devote 1.25 percent of their base salary toward health premiums. In 2019, that number will become 1.5 percent.

By the end of the new contract, new teachers with no advanced degrees would make $46,267 (compared to the current $45,360), and top-paid teachers would make $91,852 (compared to the current $90,051), according to Philly.com.

The School Reform Commission is expected to ratify the contract tonight. It would last through August of 2020.

Both city and state officials have qualms about how the schools will afford the new contract. The district’s financial issues, including a $500 million structural deficit, are increasingly pressing – especially following the contract agreement.

Philly.com reports that the contract agreement accounts for $245 million more than the district has budgeted – and there’s no plan to pay for it. When a tentative deal was reached this past Friday, City Council President Darrell L. Clarke said he would “continue to press our leaders in Harrisburg to fully fund all of Pennsylvania’s public schools.”

But Steve Miskin, a spokesman for Pa. House Republicans, told Philly.com that it “makes it very difficult to take any request from Philadelphia seriously when they do nothing that appears to help themselves – and then they negotiate a contract which they admit is based on fantasy.”

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.