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Baltimore Teachers Union contract is signed, sealed, and checks will be delivered

School system and Baltimore Teachers Union officials signed the dotted line Wednesday night on the recently ratified teachers union contract, solidifying the pact that will revolutionize the teaching profession in Baltimore for at least the next three years.

The school board voted unanimously to approve the contract Wednesday, which union members voted to ratify on Nov. 17, after initially rejecting it in October.

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On hand to officially sign the contract were: Schools CEO Andres Alonso, BTU President Marietta English, America Federation of Teachers Executive Vice President and longtime BTU chief negotiator Loretta Johnson, and Neil Duke, president of the city school board.

It seemed to be an emotional and momentous occasion, particularly for Johnson, a longtime fixture in the city school system. Described as a tough-as-nails negotiator, Johnson has been approved by the AFT to stay on hand to negotiate the contract for the city's paraprofessionals and school related personnel, along with English. The principal and administrators union is also renegotiating its contract.

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The immediate affects of the teachers union contract, which overhauls the way educators are promoted and compensated in the district, will be seen in teacher paychecks. After not receiving a pay raise for two years, educators should see a retroactive 2 percent pay raise and a $1,500 stipend sometime this month, Alonso told me last night.

District and union officials will also begin meeting to establish two committees that will oversee the implementation of the complex pact, which eliminates traditional "step" increases and introduces a career ladder that teachers can climb through acquiring "achievement units"--essentially bonus points for those who go above and beyond, that can contribute to pay raises and promotions.

Those committee appointments are due to be released in January.

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