Reprieve for a KIPP school

KIPP Ujima Village Academy, one of the highest performing middle schools in Maryland, will be able to stay open for another year, reports the Baltimore Sun. A year is not enough, the Sun editorializes.

The school’s day runs from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with weekend and summer programs added on.

Teachers at KIPP schools work, on average, about a third more hours each year than those at regular public schools, and they are paid about 20 percent more in salary and benefits.

That, however, is the basis of the union’s complaint. Unlike teachers in many other states, charter school teachers in Maryland must belong to the union and abide by the pay scales in the union contract. Based on the number of hours they work, the union calculated that KIPP teachers should be earning 33 percent more in salary and benefits under the standard contract – even though all the teachers there had volunteered to work for what the school was offering.

This year, KIPP was forced to shorten its school day by an hour, lay off administrative staff and cut art and music programs to meet the union requirement. And officials feared they might have had to cut even deeper next year, raising the question of whether the KIPP model could survive in Baltimore.

Now the union has agreed to let the charter teachers accept a nominal raise in pay, making it possible to restore the longer school day.

To get Ujima Village off the cliff’s edge, the state should let charter teachers decide if they want to join a union or go it alone.

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