Philly Imposes New Teacher Salaries
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The city school board imposed new salaries and working conditions on its 21,000 teachers, but their union said they would not strike in response, at least for now.
``We are asking all of our members to report on time and to continue at this time to provide the service that we have been hired to do,″ Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Ted Kirsch said Friday.
The city school board imposed the new terms of employment in the nation’s fifth-largest school district Thursday night after negotiators failed to reach a contract agreement. The Philadelphia Board of Education unanimously approved the new work rules at Mayor John F. Street’s recommendation.
The new terms would extend the school day by one hour and the school year by two days, give principals more say over where teachers are assigned and implement a merit pay system in which teachers whose pupils are doing well are paid more money.
In exchange, the teachers would get a $500 bonus and a raise of 17 percent over five years, Street said. The union said the terms would impose longer hours for teachers without enough of a pay increase.
``We know we’re never going to get paid what the suburban teachers get, but we deserve something fair if he wants us to work the extra hour,″ said fourth-year teacher Christine Patrone.
The teachers have been working without a contract since Sept. 11, when a court-mandated contract extension expired. The two sides have been negotiating since January.
Street said he met with Kirsch for about an hour Thursday night but failed to reach an agreement before the school board’s decision. ``I’m disappointed but I’m not surprised,″ Street said.
Despite the teachers’ opposition to the new work rules, city and union negotiators seemed in no hurry to act. Street said he would not meet with the union again until after the weekend _ a four-day break in talks.
And Kirsch responded to questions about a strike by saying, ``until the changes that affect us take place, we’re going to continue to work,″ referring to the schedule changes planned for fall 2001.
Under law, the union must give 48 hours’ notice before any strike.
On the Net: School district: http://www.phila.k12.pa.us