For Shaler Area students, summer likely to be longer
Students in the Shaler Area School District likely will not return to class on Tuesday if teachers and administrators do not reach a new contract agreement.
The Shaler Area Education Association and district negotiators met with a state-appointed mediator for the 34th time on Wednesday. They have been unable to find common ground on issues ranging from salaries to workload.
Union officials notified district officials of their intent to strike in June. District officials declined comment until Friday, and union officials did not respond to requests for comment.
While the Pennsylvania Department of Education determines the official end-of-strike date, district officials estimate a first strike would end on Sept. 20. Classes would resume Sept. 23 for the roughly 4,650 students in the district.
The district's 380 teachers are working under terms of a contract that expired on Aug. 15, 2011.
Shaler teachers are among the lowest paid in Allegheny County, according to the education department. In the 2012-13 school year, Shaler had the seventh-lowest average salary in the county — 13.7 percent lower than the county average.
Shaler teachers have an average salary of $56,362, according to the department. That's the lowest of the five school districts that share a physical border with the district — North Hills, North Allegheny, Hampton, Fox Chapel and Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Those districts are among those with the 11 highest average salaries in the county, ranging from $68,018 in North Hills to $74,363 in Fox Chapel.
But that's not how Shaler Area officials see things.
In July, officials renegotiated the district's Act 93 agreement — a document that outlines salaries and benefits for administrators and nonunion employees. Rather than comparing Shaler to adjoining districts, officials looked to districts with similar populations and economic status — Baldwin-Whitehall, Bethel Park, Gateway, McKeesport, Penn Hills, Plum and Woodland Hills.
The salary picture is different at those seven districts.
For instance, Woodland Hills teachers make an average of $52,967 per year, while the average Plum teacher salary is $79,442 — the second highest in Allegheny County.
District negotiators want the union to agree to a salary freeze in the first year of the contract, a concept union members have balked at, according to a fact-finder's report.
Salaries aren't the only sticking point. District officials want teachers to pay a higher percentage — at least 15 percent, depending on the plan — of health care premiums and have proposed adding a class period to secondary teachers' schedules.
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, 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.
- Preparations continue for first day of classes in North Hills
- Hampton’s robotics gurus excel in L.A.
- Hampton woman’s quilt makes magazine cover
- Shaler students will see advances in technology when they return to class
- McKeown named director of business development for St. Barnabas Charities
- Ross youth relishes opportunity to play in All-American Games
- St. Teresa of Avila festival plans new features
- Photo Gallery: Food-truck roundup at Northland Public Library
- Northern Tier Regional Library in Richland names new director
- Ross tax-collection hours set at Shoppes at Northway