THE BRONX - Bronx Catholic school teachers rejected the latest contract proposed by the Archdiocese of New York Tuesday

Days after returning to work following a strike that spanned Pope Benedict XVI's visit to New York City, representatives of the Lay Faculty Association say the archdiocese's latest offer falls short. The two sides had been negotiating with the help of a mediator.

Among the sticking points are salaries for the union's most experienced teachers. The union wants teachers with master's degrees and more than 20 years of experience to earn $60,000 in the third year of the contract. The archdiocese offered $58,000.

They also disagreed on health care benefits. Teachers currently pay $1,100 a year for family health plans. The archdiocese proposed increasing that to $2,200 with increases in out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles.

Union officials say they were also dissatisfied with the pension offer, but would have taken it if the other two areas met their standards.

According to union representatives, the teachers are willing to return to the bargaining table, but aren't ruling out future strikes.

Calls to the archdiocese were not returned.

Catholic H.S. teachers back in class, await contractCatholic high school teachers go on strike