Only two weeks after the Catholic high school teachers and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced an impasse in negotiations on a new contract last month, a breakthrough has emerged for both parties.

The archdiocese and the Association of Catholic Teachers announced today, June 12, in a joint statement that they had reached a tentative agreement. The union represents 625 lay teachers at the 17 archdiocesan high schools.

The new contract that would be effective Sept. 1 must still be ratified by the union’s membership. Teachers are expected to vote on the tentative agreement before the end of June. No details on it are available until that time.

The previous one-year contract will expire Aug. 31. “Early bird” negotiations this spring had been unsuccessful in forging a new deal.

The tentative deal appears to lessen the prospect of a teachers’ strike in September, just as the region gears up for the thousands of visitors coming to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families and visit of Pope Francis.

Members of the Association of Catholic Teachers in Philadelphia, which does not include elementary school teachers, last went on strike in 2011 for nearly two weeks.

News of the yet-to-be ratified agreement may come as a relief to the approximately 14,000 students attending the archdiocesan high schools located in Philadelphia and Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties.