Catholic secondary school teachers ratified a new two-year contract Friday afternoon, Sept. 11, capping talks between the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office of Catholic Education and the Association of Catholic School Teachers Local 1776 that had been ongoing since July.

The approximately 500 lay teachers had been working this week under the expired contract as some 10,400 students at the 17 archdiocesan high schools returned to a hybrid model of in-person and virtual instruction.

Jason Budd of the Office of Catholic Education (OCE) praised the teachers’ ratification vote.

“It was exciting to have our students and teachers back for the 2020-2021 school year on schedule earlier this week,” he said in a statement. “The hybrid instructional model we have in place is designed to support the health and safety of our school communities and enhance the academic achievement levels of our students. With today’s announcement, we are able to move forward without interruption for the benefit of the students and school families we serve.”

The contract calls for a salary raise of $1,200 per teacher in each of the two years and no increase in the costs of medical benefits.

Budd said the new agreement allows schools “to respond efficiently and effectively to the rapid pace of change that is a natural part of the 21st century educational landscape. It also provides the latitude to respond effectively and rapidly and to the unique circumstance of a pandemic.”

The new contract governs employment only with lay teachers of the archdiocesan high schools. Teachers in the Catholic grade schools are not represented by the association and are not affected by the agreement.

Budd in his statement also praised the parents who send their children to Catholic schools, and said that OCE “takes its responsibility seriously to create classroom environments where excellence in faith formation, teaching and learning is paramount.”