School District of Philadelphia, teachers union reach tentative agreement on contract extension

The School District of Philadelphia and the union representing its teachers reached a tentative agreement on an extension to their Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) and the district jointly announced the agreement Wednesday morning, calling it a "milestone" for both sides.

"It represents a significant investment in the dedicated educators and support staff that, with care and expertise, help shape future generations," a release read.

The details of the agreement, shared with teachers on Wednesday, includes a 5% salary increase for all PFT-represented employees starting in September. 

"I am elated by this Tentative Agreement," PFT President Jerry Jordan said. "Educators' working conditions and students' learning conditions go hand in glove, and that goes well beyond investing in classroom supplies. It means that the professionals that give so much of themselves and pour their hearts into educating our young people must be fairly compensated."

The agreement comes six months before the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the district and the union expired. Superintendent Tony Watlington said it "reflects the deep value we have for our PFT members."

"This proposed contract fairly supports the needs of our PFT members while helping us accelerate Philly and become the fastest improving, large urban school district in the nation," Watlington added. 

Gemayel Keyes, a special education teacher at Gilbert Spruance Elementary School, is one of many Philadelphia school district teachers that will receive a pay increase.

"I thought it was going to drag out until the summer and to hear that we got a tentative agreement with a five percent raise is pretty decent for a one year extension, I’m excited," said Keyes.

Counselors, nurses, secretaries, and support staff will also be eligible for the increase.

As well as a $1,200 retention and reengagement bonus that will be paid by June of this year.

"It makes the job more attractive to people who consider becoming educators. Not only that we spend a lot of our money in these classrooms everyday so five percent it doesn’t sound like a lot to most people but it’s a lot to us who spend our hard earned money make sure our students have what they need in order to succeed," said Keyes. 

Parents expressed their happiness about the news. 

"I think the teachers really deserve this, they really do good work with the kids and I think 5 percent might be too low but if that’s what they’re going for, I’m here for it," said Ebony Ferrer, parent.

"I’m happy for them," said Allan Hall Jr., parent. "Get paid."

The tentative agreement is expected to be ratified during a special PFT Membership Meeting on Mar. 6.