Contract reached between Catholic high schools, teachers

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Negotiating a new teacher contract announced Friday for eight incorporated Catholic high schools was a balancing act.

"Catholic school teachers want to work in an environment where they can teach in a faith-based school," said Brian Klisavage, president of the Federation of Pittsburgh Diocesan Teachers.

"To do that, those schools have to be affordable, so there's a balance that has to be struck between what we're able to get in salary and how that would affect tuition, but we also need to make a living."

The result was annual salary increases averaging about 2 percent over the life of the contract, according to a news release issued by the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Pay is frozen in the first year with increases of $1,000 or $1,500 in subsequent years.

Mr. Klisavage declined to say how much the teachers are paid nor did the diocese release the salary scale.

The contract covers 214 full-time lay secondary teachers at Central Catholic, Oakland Catholic, Bishop Canevin, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, Serra Catholic, Seton-La Salle, St. Joseph and Quigley Catholic.

It runs from April 10 through Aug. 31, 2018. The previous six-year contract expired Aug. 31, 2013.

"Reaching a five-year agreement shows the dedication and professionalism of our teachers. That spirit shows in their dedication to support our efforts to offer an academically excellent and faith-centered education to our secondary students," said Michael Latusek, diocesan superintendent of schools and acting secretary for Catholic education, in a news release. "At the same time, they work very hard with the schools and diocese to keep education affordable and accessible to as many students as possible."

The average annual tuition for a Catholic student who is the first child in the family is $9,500.

The contract also contains provisions aimed at addressing the increasing use of technology in Catholic schools.

"Basically, all of our high schools are advancing with student Chromebook programs and tables and those sorts of things. There are all sorts of online opportunities," Mr. Klisavage said.

He said the contract provisions are aimed at seeing such technologies do not cause teachers to lose their jobs.

About 30 Catholic elementary schools -- about half of the total -- are represented by the union.

"We will begin negotiations for a new contract soon on theirs," said Chris Ponticello, associate general counsel for the diocese.

Education writer Eleanor Chute: or 412-263-1955.

Education writer Eleanor Chute: or 412-263-1955. First Published April 11, 2014 11:09 AM

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