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Gateway teachers, district to meet Monday

| Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

While negotiations between Gateway School District teachers and officials are to continue next week, school director Chad Stubenbort asked both sides this week to consider teachers' current salaries.

“People have told me rumors are flying around as to how teachers are underpaid,” Stubenbort said at Tuesday's school board meeting.

“I would just like to state some facts so that everyone can draw their own conclusion.”

Gateway teachers were the third-highest paid in Allegheny County in the 2012-13 school year, with an average salary of about $78,300, according to Pennsylvania Department of Education records.

The countywide average last school year was $65,300.

Representatives from both sides said negotiations have centered on the amount of money the more than 300 teachers in the bargaining unit make and the district's contribution to health care benefits.

Neither district officials nor teachers would offer details about the most recent offer presented to teachers.

The two sides are to meet Monday, officials said.

Mike Krestar, president of the Gateway teachers union, said the union doesn't agree with how district officials have spent money.

School officials responded that maintenance projects are necessary for students' safety and educational environment.

“We have a few maintenance issues that are big-ticket issues that we need to account for,” school director Neal Nola said Tuesday.

“We want to keep all the programs we have now and all the teachers we have now.”

The teachers union rejected multiple contract proposals prior to October, when negotiations broke down, Nola said.

Teachers have been working under the terms of a contract that expired in August.

That contract called for a 2-percent pay increase for 2012-13, but teachers accepted a 1-percent increase that school year in exchange for a freeze on teacher furloughs.

In the meantime, yard signs that show support for Gateway teachers have started to appear in front of Monroeville and Pitcairn homes.

Krestar said Tuesday the Gateway Education Association “appreciates the community support that we are receiving during continued negotiations with the district …”

The yard signs, which read, “Friend of Gateway Teachers,” were distributed by a group of Gateway teachers.

Stubenbort said signs are fitting, given the district's average teacher salary.

“I guess we're all friends of the Gateway teachers.”

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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