Philadelphia Catholic high school teachers back at work, classes open Tuesday

Classes officially will begin Tuesday for students in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s high schools. A new three year teachers’ contract has been approved.

Both sides in the dispute are claiming victory. Rita Schwartz of the Association of Catholic Teachers says her members got the respect they deserve.

“The teachers wanted the job security issues on the record they wanted their respect issues on the record and I think they got both of them very well they think they did or they wouldn’t have voted the way they did,” said Schwartz.

Teachers will see their pay go up of 8.3 percent over the life of the contract.

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The Archdiocese says it won the ability to hire part time teachers and use an on-line system for giving out student grades. Theresa Ryan Szott was the chief negotiator for the church. She says the contract allows Catholic high schools to move into modern times.

“We have a new evaluation system that recognizes distinguished and proficient teachers,” said Szott.  “We will grant tenure only to those teachers who are distinguished and proficient. That’s just a few of the changes that we got educationally to be able to make the school system function better.”

Teacher Juan Suarez Romero of Roman Catholic High School says he’s just glad to be heading back to the classroom.

“It was never about the money, I mean was as Catholic educators I think we are the lowest-paying school district in Pennsylvania,” he said. “It was about preserving our jobs and make sure we come back every year to do what we want to do.”

To make up for lost time, students will lose a few of their scheduled days off. Teachers will be docked two days pay for the almost two week long walkout.

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