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After 2 years of negotiating, South Allegheny teachers have 4-year pact

After nearly two years of negotiations, South Allegheny School District teachers have a new four-year contract.

On Thursday night, the school board approved a collective bargaining agreement between the district and South Allegheny Education Association by a 7-0-1 vote.

The agreement is retroactive to July 1, 2008, when the last teacher's contract expired.

Board President Luke Riley abstained and Director Russell Geary was absent.

"This has been nearly a two-year process," Riley said. "Both sides worked very hard at coming to an agreement. Unfortunately, when it comes to a roll call vote, I'm going to have to abstain. I am totally in favor of this agreement being passed. The reason for my abstention is I have a sister-in-law who is a member of the association and, in addition, one of our borough officials is a member of the association."

Riley is Liberty's police chief.

"We're glad this process is over and an agreement has been reached," SAEA President Mary DiLonardo said on behalf of the association.

The contract raises teacher salaries an average of 2 percent each year of the agreement.

The new agreement requires that teachers contribute funds to pay for health insurance premiums. It also adds time to the work day, and increases the number of days for student instruction by one, to 183.

Teachers will work an additional five minutes per day during the 2010-11 school year, and another four minutes during 2011-12 for a total of an additional nine minutes.

District officials said there will be no tax increase as a result of the new contract.

"I'm very pleased we have reached an agreement," board Treasurer Dino DiFelice said. "As (Riley) said, it was a long time we worked together on both sides, nicely."

"The teachers are pleased the contract is done," said Butch Santicola, spokesman for Pennsylvania State Education Association. "It shows collective bargaining does work in Pennsylvania. They hung in there. It's done. Both sides ratified it and everyone's happy."

"This collective bargaining agreement has been a long, drawn-out process," district Solicitor George Gobel said. "At times, it was difficult. I commend the board members as well as the leadership of the association for allowing this process to move forward without a work stoppage."

The board also granted tenure to teacher Amber Haftmann and hired Danielle Baginski as a health and physical education teacher.

Directors authorized the purchase of a Western Pro Plus snow plow from Zoresco at a cost of $4,590.

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