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Day care program an issue for teachers' union in Keystone Oaks

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A nonprofit day care program renting space in schools is under scrutiny by the teachers' union in Keystone Oaks, but officials in other districts with the program say their respective unions haven't raised the concerns.

The Keystone Oaks School Board signed a memorandum of understanding late last month with the Keystone Oaks Education Association, agreeing that the continuation of the Extended Day Services program in the district's three elementary schools would be negotiated for the 2014-15 school year.

In exchange, the union dropped a grievance it filed with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board alleging that the EDS was “a unilateral diversion of bargaining unit work” — with the school district giving away potential union work in the before- and after-school day care programs.

The withdrawn complaint said duties that previously were handled exclusively by union members included direct instruction of kindergarten students.

But among the seven other school districts EDS services, those who would comment said they had no issues with introducing EDS, no complaints about the program taking work that could be done by teachers, and no grievances filed by their respective unions. The KOEA and its parent organization, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, declined to comment on what made Keystone Oaks' case different.

In Upper St. Clair's three elementary schools, EDS provides day care services before school, after school and during the day for students who are in half-day kindergarten, Superintendent Patrick O'Toole said.

The organization operates a “summer camp” at two schools.

The Upper St. Clair teachers' union never has raised an issue with the program before, he said.

“(Extended Day) services are provided outside the school day,” O'Toole said. “It's not part of our teaching day, it's not part of our core instructional program here. It's an add-on, a convenience for our parents.”

Chuck McCartney, spokesman for the Chartiers Valley School District, said EDS has run the district's before- and after-school programs for almost eight years, although the district's full-day kindergarten limits hours when day care is needed for students at that grade level.

In South Park schools, the introduction of EDS's Kindergarten-Plus program helped when budget cuts ended an all-day kindergarten section, said Superintendent Jeanine Gregory. EDS has been leasing space in the South Park Elementary Center since the 2011-12 school year without objections from the district's union.

“We didn't negotiate (with the union) at all,” Gregory said. “It really didn't impact our teachers or staff.”

Peters Township School District has hosted EDS before- and after-school programs since 1996 without any objections from the Peters Township Federation of Teachers.

“It's a day care function ... we just make it available for parents during the day,” said Beaver Area schools Superintendent John Hansen, who said EDS has been part of his district for about three years without complaint from its union. “Parents pay EDS directly — in essence, parents contract with EDS; we just lease space to them in our schools.”

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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