Catholic high schools closing for strike

The Archdiocese of Phila­delphia will close 17 area high schools for more than 16,000 students starting today after rejecting the latest call for mediation in the seven-day teachers’ strike.

More than 700 teachers hit the picket line on Sept. 6, but schools opened the following day as administrators conducted orientation. Yesterday, the archdiocese made the decision to close schools until a deal is reached, although sports and after-school activities will continue.

The two sides had yet to reach agreement on several items, such as wages, hiring of part-time teachers, extension of the work day and use of technology in the classroom by last night. After the archdiocese twice rejected the union’s request for mediation, Pat Eiding, president of the local AFL-CIO, sent both sides a letter urging the sides to meet with a third party, but the archdiocese says it will not.

“We believe that we know our schools, our students, our parents and our teachers better than anyone else,” said Theresa Ryan-Szott, chief negotiator for the archdiocese.

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