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Tradeoff opens way for Upper St. Clair labor agreement

| Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 8:52 p.m.

The union representing Upper St. Clair School District teachers has reached an agreement with the district that will roll salaries back to 2009-10 levels this year in exchange for a guarantee that the district won't furlough any teachers for the next two years, officials said.

The Upper St. Clair Education Association and the school board approved a new contract late last week, even though the previous contract wasn't set to expire until 2013-14.

The contract, expected to save the district $3.7 million in its first two years, will help close an anticipated $3.2 million deficit in 2012-13 that previously led administrators to consider furloughing up to 30 employees and not replacing 14 others who planned to retire at the end of the year.

"It really helps the district with its budget going forward," Superintendent Patrick O'Toole said. "We still have challenges ahead with our pensions and reductions in state and federal assistance."

Under the agreement, salaries for 2012-13 will drop back to 2009-10 levels, gradually returning to current levels by the end of the new contract in 2016, O'Toole said.

It also provides a $15,000 cash bonus for any eligible professional who retires in the next four years, reduces money available for teachers' tuition reimbursement, increases employee contributions toward health insurance, and reduces the number of teacher in-service days from 14 to 11.

"The budget crisis we are facing can only be addressed through a concerted effort by the staff, administration, and community, each willing to make difficult decisions that serve the best interests of the students," Upper St. Clair Education Association president-elect Patrick Manion said in a statement issued following Friday's agreement.

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