News & Politics

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers reaches tentative agreement with school district on one-year contract extension

The deal comes months before what was expected to be a summer of tense contract negotiations.

Jerry Jordan and Tony Watlington

Jerry Jordan and Tony Watlington Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; School District of Philadelphia

In a move that comes months before contract negotiations were expected to ramp up, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers announced it has reached a tentative agreement with the School District of Philadelphia on a one-year extension of the existing collective bargaining agreement. 

The one-year extension would include a 5% salary increase for employees in September, to take effect after the current contract expires on Aug. 31. The district’s 13,000 teachers, counselors, nurses, secretaries and support staff would receive the raise, as well as a $1,000 bonus, and eligible employees would receive step increases and more. 

PFT President Jerry Jordan called the tentative agreement a “forward-thinking down payment” that ensures a long-term commitment to fully staffing and supporting schools. 

“Amidst a precipitous decline in teaching certifications issued in Pennsylvania and a real challenge in filling vacancies, this Tentative Agreement seeks to stem this tide in two significant ways: recognizing the impact of the educators who are currently doing the work, through a pay increase, bonus, and scheduled step increases; and increasing our district's competitiveness in hiring new employees through higher wages,” Jordan said in a statement. 

The agreement comes just weeks into negotiations – and months ahead of what was expected to be a summer of tense contract negotiations between the union and school district. It also marks one of the final moves Jordan, who’s retiring as PFT President on June 30 after 17 years at the helm, will make on behalf of the city’s public school teachers. 

As of this school year, starting teachers are paid $51,568 annually. “Senior career teachers,” the most experienced educators, make $102,376, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. A 5% raise would increase starting salaries to $54,146 and senior career salaries to $107,495. 

Philadelphia School District Superintendent Tony Watlington said the agreement reflects the “deep value we have for our PFT members.”

“In the School District of Philadelphia, schools are the primary unit of change, and highly qualified, well-supported, stable teachers over time, is the number one lever for accelerating academic achievement,” Watlington said in a statement. “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.”

As part of the deal, the PFT will agree to meet regularly with Watlington and his team to review progress towards Watlington’s five-year strategic plan.

Ratification of the agreement will take place on March 6 during a special PFT membership meeting.