Shaler Area teachers strike must end in two weeks
Shaler Area School District officials say they can't afford the salary increase proposed by the teachers union, outlining their case in a series of detailed reports they released online.
Teachers must end the strike they started Sept. 3 and return to classrooms by Sept. 24 with or without a new contract, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Superintendent Wes Shipley has said negotiators made “significant progress” toward an agreement on health insurance contributions but remain at a stalemate regarding salaries. The district made an offer, he said, and is awaiting a counterproposal from the Shaler Area Education Association, which represents 380 teachers.
Shaler Area teachers move through 19 salary “steps,” which include annual raises based on experience and education. Those steps add 3.1 percent to payroll costs every year, worth between $4,000 to $5,000 per teacher between steps 11 and 19, said Charles Bennett, Shaler Area's director of business affairs.
Teachers proposed in May to increase payroll steps to 4.2 percent. Union President Melissa Ravas declined to elaborate on the union's current proposal, but said that figure has decreased.
“We realize the incremental costs at Shaler are high but if we do what the district is proposing, the issue is going to be far worse,” she said.
Last month, state-appointed mediators urged union leaders to agree to a salary freeze in the first year of an agreement. They proposed salary increases for teachers in the first 10 steps and the last step.
“The people in the middle were getting nice raises but we wanted to look ahead for what we could realistically provide to the younger staff and those career teachers who aren't subject to annual step increases anymore,” Bennett said.
Ravas disagreed with that reasoning.
“The district wants to increase step raises for the younger teachers. So, say that equals $1,000 your first few years and $500 for those with more experience,” she said. “Those will compound and that's only going to make the financial situation worse five, 10, 15 years from now.”
According to the district, some previous contracts featured late-career salary steps worth as much as $30,000 between the 18th and 19th steps. In the last two or three contracts, the district and union agreed to redistribute that cash to steps 10 through 19.
Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5815 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.
- Pirates pitcher Morton turns in solid performance in win over Marlins
- Cops: Man shoots 11-year-old with BB gun in McKeesport; boy critical
- Pirates notebook: Morton’s return to Pirates means Liz leaves
- 12 missing after flooding in Texas sweeps away vacation home
- ‘Voice of Pittsburgh’ was proud of Mon Valley roots
- Accident at West Virginia’s Cheat Lake sends boaters to hospital
- Consistency keeps Cellone’s Bakery customers coming back
- With space to spare, Pittsburgh International draws corporate jet carrier
- Theft thwarted by employee at North Huntingdon Wal-Mart
- Previewing the the 2015 WPIAL baseball championships
- Westmoreland Veterans’ Monument unveiled, rededicated in Greensburg