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Shaler Area negotiations to continue

| Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 4:24 p.m.

A teachers' strike might be looming as Shaler Area officials and the Shaler Area Education Association have yet to come to an agreement in the contract negotiations, which will continue next week.

Both sides last met on July 2, at which time the teacher's union representatives told the district negotiating team they would not meet again without a state-appointed mediator.

The next negotiation meeting is set for July 31.

Shaler Area teachers have been working under the terms of the previous contract since it expired Aug. 15, 2011, and union and district officials have been meeting since January 2011 to negotiate a new contract. The Shaler Area Education Association represents 380 teachers.

Earlier this summer, the union rejected a fact-finding report completed by state appointed fact-finder Michelle Miller-Kotula, which was the second, and final fact-finding report allowed during a negotiations process.

On June 13, the Shaler Area Education Association delivered the strike notice to district administration that would begin on the first scheduled student day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

“Our plan is to continue negotiations and do everything we can to avoid that strike,” Superintendent Wes Shipley said.

If negotiations continue to stall, district officials plan to send out a phone message to district families and letters by early August advising parents and students on the district's plans in the event of a strike.

While the district continues to negotiate with the teachers' union, last week, the school board approved a new Act 93 agreement, which outlines the salaries for administrators and personnel not in a bargaining unit.

School district officials worked to make the salary scales for administrators more in line with similarly-sized school districts using the market value-personal income aid ratio, a factor used to determine the state's share of instructional costs.

Shaler Area officials used a combination of seven comparable school districts, including Penn Hills, Baldwin-Whitehall, Bethel Park and Plum.

The Act 93 agreement sets the salaries for 29 administrative employees including: Superintendent Wes Shipley at $135,200, Assistant to the Superintendent Kara Eckert at $109,200, Director of Business Affairs Charles Bennett at $115,680 and Director of Human Resources Gary Mignogna at $74,880.

“These people run the district for us every day,” said school board president Jim Giel. “We're fortunate to have these people.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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