East Allegheny teachers pack meeting in display of solidarity
East Allegheny School District teachers packed the board meeting on Monday evening in a sign of solidarity.
About 50 teachers attended the session wearing blue shirts with yellow lettering with the message, “Standing up for the teachers means standing up for our kids.”
None of them spoke during the meeting.
“We're here to show that we're still working,” said East Allegheny Education Association president Cheryl Ihnat after the meeting. “We're currently in our second year of working without a contract, and we want to make our presence continually known ... Our group is united. We are strong. We are still working for our kids, and we're doing our best to keep doing that. Our community needs to know we're working without a contract.”
The district's 128 teachers have worked without a contract since the end of the 2011-12 school year.
Contract negotiations between the district and East Allegheny Education Association officials remain at an impasse. The last official negotiation session took place on Dec. 11, when school directors agreed to step away from the talks and allow legal counsel Michael Palombo to represent the district.
“I guess they were just here to show their solidarity,” school board president Gerri McCullough said after Monday's meeting. “The board members are no longer negotiating. We've turned it over to labor counsel, so they really wouldn't have had much to say to us ... Our negotiation team will be meeting with (legal) counsel continuously.”
McCullough said board members decided to remove themselves from the negotiations because “we were just at a standstill.”
The board president said the only progress made involves language for teacher evaluations, which is mandated by the state Department of Education.
“Everything else is money, and that's where the disagreement is, money,” school director Frederick Miller said.
He said the district is faced with increasing pension, health care and cyber/charter school costs, but declined to release specific figures.
“These escalating costs are continuing to strain the budget, and we don't want to raise taxes because we're already very high,” Miller said. “It's like, ‘What do we do?' The teachers want more money, so how do we balance all that? It's a tough balancing act, and it makes negotiations difficult. I understand where the teachers are coming from ... Just because we didn't come to a negotiation contract doesn't mean they don't do a good job. We believe they do a very good job. We just have difficulty funding what they desire.”
“(Teachers) are deserving, but our taxpayers are also deserving of relief,” said treasurer and school director Roxanne Sakoian Eichler.
Ihnat declined to discuss possible terms or contract proposals.
“We've had ongoing negotiations for the past year and a half,” Ihnat said. “I can't go into details.”
She did say Pennsylvania State Education Association UniServ representative Robert Myers is involved in contract talks.
School directors unanimously adopted a resolution that indicates the board will not raise taxes for the 2014-15 fiscal year by more than its Act 1 index of .8547 mills. The current millage rate is 27.54.
“We have no intention of raising taxes whatsoever,” McCullough said.
Superintendent Roger D'Emidio recognized school directors Frank Pearsol and Eichler. He presented plaques from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association to Pearsol for eight consecutive years of service, and to Eichler for 24 consecutive years of service.
D'Emidio said Pearsol served 20 years on the board, but not consecutively.
The superintendent praised all school directors, as January is School Board Recognition Month.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- County shuts down Clairton demolition work
- Lessons at Legion give learners tools to swing onto dance floor
- Phyllis Wheatley Literary Society honors black officers at annual Law Enforcers Salute
- Mon Valley steelworkers rally for new contract
- McKeesport Area schools to provide outreach activities
- Renzie Park projects top list of requests for RAD funding
- Paving, electronics upgrades evident at Steel Valley
- Mon-Yough water line upgrades will lead to more reliable service
- West Mifflin Area boosts technology
- West Mifflin Community Day returns to airport grounds
- Grant will benefit Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin