The Philadelphia school district and its teachers’ union have agreed on a contract that would allow many more teachers to be assigned to schools without regard to seniority and would raise salaries by more than 9 percent over four years. (“Collective Bargaining Bumping Up Against No Child Left Behind Law,” Sept. 8, 2004.)
Members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers approved the proposal last week and the School Reform Commission, the district’s board, followed suit.
Chief Executive Officer Paul G. Vallas hailed the compromise agreement as affordable and an advance for school improvement. The 190,000-student district had sought to virtually eliminate seniority rights in teacher assignment. Under the contract, principals in existing schools would have control over half the vacancies in their buildings, and the principals of newly organized schools would initially be able to choose their staffs.
The union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, staved off moves to lengthen teachers’ workdays, control time designated for preparation, and make members pay up to 2 percent of their salaries for health insurance, though some new employees will have to make contributions.
The contract promises teachers 3 percent raises in the second, third, and fourth years, with modest bonuses in the first three. It also sets goals for limiting class size in the early grades.
The contract expired Aug. 31, but officials agreed to extend it three times.