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East Allegheny teachers offer district amended contract package

| Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, 4:36 a.m.

The president of East Allegheny's teachers union said her bargaining team offered an amended contract package to district negotiators during talks on Thursday.

“We believe that it is fair for both parties as well as the community,” East Allegheny Education Association president Cheryl Ihnat said after a three-hour session.

Attorney Michael Palombo, the district's chief negotiator, could not be reached for comment at presstime.

The talks were the latest attempt to resolve a two-year contract dispute in advance of the scheduled Sept. 2 start of classes at district schools.

The 128 members of the association have voted to strike if no agreement is reached by then.

“They went OK,” Ihnat said of the talks.

She declined to give specifics of her proposal, saying the district should have the chance to review it first.

The two sides are slated to meet on Aug. 27, but Ihnat offered to meet sooner if possible.

“The district is checking its availabilities,” Ihnat said.

Each side handed out statements at Monday's school board meeting.

Both sides have gone online to make their case to residents of the district, which encompasses East McKeesport, North Versailles Township, Wall and Wilmerding.

The union's position is at sites.google.com/site/eaea4students/home, while the district posts its negotiation updates on a page of the www.eawildcats.net website.

A new item on the district website is an open letter dated Monday to Pennsylvania State Education Association UniServ representative Robert Myers.

East Allegheny Education Association is an affiliate of the state association. A clarification is stated, apparently to an issue that caused problems at two recent bargaining sessions.

Palombo wrote that the union erroneously assumed “that the district was intent on creating a 31-step schedule” for teacher salaries.

The last contract between the district and the teachers lists 16 steps, according to the state fact-finder's report that the district rejected and teachers accepted in 2012.

Two school directors alluded to that problem after Monday's board meeting but didn't elaborate.

The teachers have worked under terms of a contract that expired on June 30, 2012.

The district has said it is seeking a contract that would keep any real estate tax increase to a minimum, saying on Monday that its proposal would mean an increase from the present rate of 27.54 mills to 28.28 mills.

It said the proposal by teachers would raise taxes by at least 4 mills.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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