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Eliz. Forward teachers will get new pact but no raises

| Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, 3:56 a.m.

Elizabeth Forward teachers will work under a three-year contract that provides for few changes in salary, according to a statement issued on Monday by the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

“The Elizabeth Forward Education Association recognizes that the current financial status of the Elizabeth Forward School District is precarious at this time,” the state association said on behalf of the union and its approximately 180 members.

The state association said there will be no increase in salary in any of the three years, with a total wage freeze in 2013-14 and no step changes in the tenured positions based on a teacher's credentials and time with the district.

There will be limited step movement in 2014-15 and 2015-16, the state association said.

District officials remain mum about the contract pending a final school board vote, which likely will happen next month.

“The district has made a decision not to make a comment until we have a final contract,” Solicitor Pat McGrail said on Monday night.

Teachers and the school board approved a fact-finding report issued on Oct. 1 by Jane Minnich of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.

District officials said on Oct. 16 that language issues remain to be resolved.

“The details of the report become the next contract,” the state association's UniServ representative Christine Cortazzo said on Oct. 14. “Since both sides have voted it in, it is the same as a ratified agreement.”

In each year of the contract, the state association said, teachers will continue to pay 3 percent of their health insurance premium.

The statewide teachers union said its Elizabeth Forward affiliate lost protective language that helped to prevent the district from being able to furlough so-called specials teachers in disciplines such as art, music, physical education, computers and library. The state association said that means the district will have more flexibility in being able to furlough teachers based on declining enrollment.

“The members of the Elizabeth Forward Education Association have accepted these concessions in an effort to assist the district in achieving financial stability,” the state association's statement said. “Our first priority has been and always will be dedicated to the education of our students.”

The state association said all extracurricular and athletic salaries and extra compensation rates are frozen for the life of the contract.

The teachers' most recentfive-year pact with the district expired on Aug. 31.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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