Share This Page

ASD, union to meet Friday

MANOR -- In an effort to avoid a teacher strike in the Armstrong School District next week, the state-appointed mediator has asked both sides to meet again Friday.

According to a news release issued by the district Wednesday, district solicitor Lee Price, members of the school board of directors and administrators will attend the meeting. The mediator has attended all negotiation sessions between the two sides.

Price said the district gave its contract proposal to the union last Wednesday and is awaiting a formal response.

"The salary and health care premium contributions are part of a package, and as inter-related items, they will have a significant impact on the district's budget both now and in the future," he said.

The union announced in February that it would go on strike on April 9, next Thursday, if the contract was not settled by then. Union leaders have stated that they were close to an agreement after two recent meetings, but that talks fell apart with the offer made by the district last week.

Armstrong Education Association president Tom Burkett confrimed Friday's meeting and said he hopes a settlement can be reached.

If the teachers would strike, the first day the students would be affected would be Monday, April 13. The strike would most likely last through that week with students returning to the classrooms on Monday, April 20.

According to state law, there must be 180 instructional days completed by June 15, which would limit the length of the strike.

District officials said the strike would last six days, including April 9 and the week of April 13-17. Friday, April 10 is a holiday and that day would not have to be made up. The state education department will officially determine the length of the strike, according to district officials.

Administrators said they presented their "Teachers' Strike Contingency Plan" to the school board during an executive session Monday evening. It outlined major items that will have a direct impact on students and staff in the event of a strike, such as planned educational field trips, athletics, the interruption of academic classes, teacher conferences and workshops, and the moving of the graduation date.

If a strike occurs, the graduation date for seniors will be pushed back to a later date in June, although the exact date is not yet available. If no strike takes place, seniors are scheduled to graduate Thursday, June 4, according to the district.

The district's contingency plan also addresses school district operations such as other non-teacher employee groups, contracted services, and security. It details a communication procedure that has been developed, including letters to parents and memos to leaders of employee groups such as secretaries, custodians, maintenance, teacher aides, and food service personnel, according to the district.

In the event of a strike, there will be no interruption of services for students enrolled at Lenape Technical School, Adelphoi Village alternative education, or in special needs schools operated outside Armstrong School District, the district said.

The district's 486 teachers have been working under the terms of a four-year contract, which expired June 30, 2008. Under the current contract, teachers, with the exception of about 225 teachers at the top of the pay scale, received a 3.25 percent increase each year of the contract. Those at the top of the scale received an average 1.9 percent increase each year.

The union is seeking a five-year deal to replace the existing contract. The last strike in the district was during the 1986-87 school year and lasted 25 days.

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.