Bill hearing to keep KIPP charter school in Baltimore postponed

Union, school continue negotiations

March 08, 2011|By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun

A hearing scheduled for Wednesday on proposed legislation aimed at helping KIPP charter schools remain in Baltimore has been rescheduled for next week as the organization continues negotiations with the Baltimore Teachers Union about how to pay its teachers for extended school days.

According to Jason Botel, executive director of KIPP Baltimore, the union requested the postponement for one week in hopes of reaching a long-term agreement that would allow KIPP's rigorous model — which includes mandatory 9 1/2-hour school days, Saturday school and summer school — to be implemented in the city without violating the teachers' union contract.

KIPP, a national network of renowned charters, operates a high-performing elementary and middle school in the city, but has said it will close its doors June 30 if it cannot reach an agreement with the union.

The bill hearing has been rescheduled for March 16, unless an agreement is reached, Botel said.

The schools have been operating under a one-year contract, requiring them to pay teachers up to 20 percent more than other city teachers. The organization said that as it looks to stay in the city long term by leasing and renovating its own building, it needs a more cost-effective solution.

Del. Sandy Rosenberg and Sen. Catherine Pugh, both Baltimore Democrats, proposed legislation in Annapolis that would help KIPP and other charters by allowing their teachers to vote on working conditions, including pay.

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