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Negotiations ongoing between Ligonier Valley teachers and district

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Ligonier Valley teachers say they will continue to work, despite approaching the ninth month with no teacher's contract.

A sea of royal blue shirts greeted school directors at Monday night's Ligonier Valley school board meeting.

About 60 district employees, members and supporters of the teachers union, stood in solidarity when Amy Salay, co-chief negotiator for the Ligonier Valley Education Association, announced what she called “this period of uncertainty” that teachers have worked under since their contract expired on June 30.

“Negotiations cannot continue without resolution. Time may be running out,” the R.K. Mellon Elementary School guidance counselor said. “Working in uncertain conditions and with uncertain outcomes affects morale. However, our energy is focused and our students' education remains our priority. We continue to work. We continue to care.”

Salay said since the contract expired at the end of the 2011-12 school year, teachers' salaries and benefits remain as stipulated in the previous five-year contract.

School directors hired a professional negotiator last year.

District officials said they remain in negotiations and are hoping for a favorable outcome.

“The whole thing about negotiating is that both sides are trying to come to an agreement that they can live with. And that takes time sometimes,” Superintendent Chris Oldham said.

Salay indicated that a strike by teachers is not imminent.

“We are strong, committed and connected to one belief that the quality of education that has long been a tradition of this district will continue. We will do what is necessary to secure a new agreement that supports those who do the daily work. LVEA will continue to bargain in good faith in order to reach an agreement that is fair for everyone.”

The statement came during the same meeting where Oldham presented Keystone Awards to all four building principals for making Adequate Yearly Progress in two consecutive years.

“It's a pleasure to see the work that you people do,” said school director Irv Tantlinger in reference to the awards.

Jewels Phraner is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or jphraner@tribweb.com.

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