Teachers at Philly tech charter school ratify first-ever contract

Posted: August 27, 2014

After negotiating for 12 months, New Media Technology Charter School in Northwest Philadelphia and its unionized teachers have ratified their first contract.

The agreement provides the first salary scale in the school's 10-year history, and includes options for higher pay for teachers with specialized certifications and bonuses for improved school performance.

The charter board approved the contract Thursday. The 27 teachers at the school in the Stenton section had approved the proposal Aug. 4. Both votes were unanimous.

"This milestone is another step forward for New Media Technology Charter School," Reuben Mills, the school's chief executive, said in a statement Monday. "I'm looking forward to working with the union and the entire team to improve educational outcomes and produce scholars who can contribute to society in a positive manner."

English teacher Kaitlin Lindinger, who served on the union's negotiating team, said teachers were excited about the opportunities for increased collaboration with administrators outlined in the contract.

The teachers are represented by the Alliance of Charter School Employees, an affiliate of AFT Pennsylvania.

Most of the 86 charters in the city are not unionized, but New Media is the fourth that has approved a union contract this year.

The six-year agreement is retroactive to September 2013.

The new salary schedule sets a starting rate of $42,000 for a first-year teacher who is certified. The average New Media teacher earns $46,200. Both the starting salary and the average salary figures for the charter are below Philadelphia district rates.

The school, which has 550 students in grades six to 12, is fighting to continue operating. The School Reform Commission voted in June not to renew New Media's operating charter on several grounds, including lackluster academic performance, improper admission policies, and shaky finances.

New Media's mission is to educate students using project-based learning and technology.

The school will remain open in the 2014-15 academic year, and New Media will be able to make its case for renewing its charter during a hearing at the school district.

District spokesman Fernando Gallard said no hearing date has been set.



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