Saturday, September 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

No seniority? No water fountains? More on the contract

I’ve read the Philadelphia School District’s full list of demands from teachers, and it’s a doozy. (That’s on top of details reported last night and in this morning’s Inquirer.)

No seniority? No water fountains? More on the contract

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan along with Quanisha Smith of Action Now (left) and Anne Gemmell of Fight for Philly respond to Philadelphia School Superintendent William Hite´s action plan in front of Philadelphia School District Headquarters. ( RON TARVER / Staff Photographer )
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan along with Quanisha Smith of Action Now (left) and Anne Gemmell of Fight for Philly respond to Philadelphia School Superintendent William Hite's action plan in front of Philadelphia School District Headquarters. ( RON TARVER / Staff Photographer )

I’ve read the Philadelphia School District’s full list of demands from teachers, and it’s a doozy. (That’s on top of details reported last night and in this morning’s Inquirer.)

Some bullet points:

First, the financials - as already reported, pay cuts 13 percent for those who make $55,000 and above, with lesser cuts for those who earn less.  (Employees who make under $25,000 would take a 5 percent cut.)

But there would also be benefit givebacks.  Teachers and other Philadelphia Federation of Teachers members who are paid over $55k would have to pay 13 percent toward their benefits, and so on - same percentages as the pay cut.

More coverage
 
Teachers react with shock, anger and desire to find new job
 
Groups criticize Nutter over school closings
 
Major changes ahead for city teachers?
 
School breakfasts nourish academic performance, study finds

Employees whose spouses or domestic partners are eligible for health coverage through their employer but take district insurance instead would pay a $70 surcharge.  The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Health and Welfare Fund, which has long administered benefits, would cease to exist; the district would administer benefits.

There would be no more sabbaticals for teachers who’ve worked 20 years. Termination pay for employees who leave or retire would be reduced to $160 per day, as opposed to the current daily rate teachers are paid.

There would be no more “steps” - graduated salary levels within categories of employees.  There would be no more elevated pay categories for teachers with master’s degrees, master’s plus 30 credits, doctorates, and “senior career teachers” - those at the highest pay scale.  

There would be no more bonuses for those achieving prestigious National Board Certification.  There would be no more extra pay for teachers who miss prep periods to perform other work as directed by their administrators.

Layoffs and recalls would be subject to the superintendent’s discretion, and would only require seven days notice, much less than the current notification period.

On top of the longer work day (eight hours for teachers as opposed to the current seven hours, four minutes), teachers would also have to lead professional development, attend meetings, perform bus, yard and lunch duty and be available for parent meetings outside work hours with no extra pay.  That’s a big change to the current contract language.  Teachers wouldn’t be able to leave the building during the work day, either, without principal approval.  Nurses who are called in early or tend to emergencies during their lunch periods wouldn’t be given comp time.

Seniority would be eliminated; all teacher vacancies would be filled by site selection, with the principal given final say in picking teachers. If there are vacancies on August 1, teachers could be transferred to fill them; the district would have discretion over this.

Schools with more than 1,000 students would no longer be required to have librarians or librarian assistants.

Schools would no longer be required to have counselors, and counselors’ caseloads would no longer be capped.

Teachers could be assigned to unlimited classes outside their subject area, and high school teachers could be assigned an extra class without pay.  There would be no limit on amount of consecutive time taught in a school day.

There would be no limit on class size.  (Current limits are 30 for the lower grades and 33 for the upper grades, large class sizes by anyone’s measure.)

There are some major work rule changes, too - the one that jumped out at me was teachers no longer being able to use reasonable force to defend themselves. The district would no longer be required to provide copy machines, or “a sufficient number of instructional materials and textbooks.”

The district would no longer have to provide a teachers’ lounge, water fountains, parking facilities, desks for teachers, a designated room for speech and language staff and psychologists or “accommodation rooms” for students with special needs.  Counselors would no longer be guaranteed to have rooms with privacy and confidentiality, a telephone, a locked filing cabinet and a door.

The district retains the right to subcontract, outsource or assign PFT bargaining unit jobs.  Does that mean outsourced teachers?  Temp secretaries?

It’s quite a list.  Of course, it’s the very first proposal, and the contract expires in August, so we’re in for months of talks.  And there’s a question of whether the School Reform Commission has the power to impose terms on the PFT, and whether the PFT can strike, etc.  

What do folks think?  Please, keep it civil!

About this blog

Inquirer reporter Kristen Graham writes the Philly School Files blog, where she covers education in Philadelphia, both in and out of the classroom.

During the school year, you’ll frequently find her hosting live chats about the district on Philly.com.

Please do pass along the scoop about what’s going on at your Philadelphia public school; Kristen welcomes tips, story ideas and witty banter.


Kristen Graham Inquirer Staff Writer
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected