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East Allegheny teachers maintain strike plans

| Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 4:46 a.m.

East Allegheny teachers do not plan to return to their classrooms as scheduled on Tuesday, according to their union president.

A nearly three-hour negotiating session on Wednesday kept East Allegheny Education Association and the district at a contractual stalemate, which they've experienced since June 2012.

The bargaining team for the teachers offered an amended contract package to district negotiators two weeks ago, and that proposal was declined on Wednesday in a final meeting aimed at resolving their two-year contract dispute before the scheduled start of the 2014-15 school year. The 133-member association previously agreed to strike if no agreement could be reached.

“There is no agreement, so as of right now, we will not be starting school on Tuesday,” education association president Cheryl Ihnat said. “We are open to coming back to the table, but I'm not sure that's going to happen.”

In attempts to receive district confirmation of the potential strike, school directors deferred all comments regarding contract negotiations to attorney Michael Palombo, who could not be reached for comment at presstime. The district operates a primary, middle and high school — serving approximately 1,700 students — according to state Department of Education data from 2013.

Ihnat said the district offered a counterproposal that does not meet the staff's needs. Its proposal remained virtually unchanged in the union's eyes.

“Unfortunately, the board presented us again with a proposal that was very unreasonable and unrealistic,” she said. “They changed two items that made no difference.”

Both sides have issued public statements regarding the impasse.

They 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.

Throughout negotiations, 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 current rate of 27.54 mills to 28.28 mills.

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

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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