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Riverview School District, union officials agree to fact-finding in contract talks

| Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, 9:39 p.m.

Riverview School District and teachers union officials have postponed contract negotiations.

Riverview Education Association President Mark Capsambelis said the union requested the state Labor Relations Board appoint an independent fact-finder after the latest negotiation session failed to result in a new deal.

The parties last met Nov. 15 for about six hours.

“While discussions were constructive, the parties were unable to move closer on economics and some of the remaining language,” according to a post on the district’s website, rsd.k12.pa.us.

Capsambelis said Robert Creo, a Pittsburgh-based mediator and arbitrator, was named the fact-finder.

Board President Maureen McClure said both parties were advised not to talk about the fact-finding.

She said the district has great teachers, and salaries continue to be one of the major sticking points.

“I think the meetings have been cordial,” she said. “We wish we could pay them more, but we have limited budgets. We’re trying to do the best we can for everybody. I’m happy to pay more in taxes for good teachers, but there are a lot of people who can’t (afford a tax increase). We have to balance the needs of the taxpayers with the needs of teachers, and both of them against the needs of the students because the students come first.”

A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 18, and Creo’s report is due Dec. 30.

The district and union will have 10 days to vote on accepting the report.

The report could result in a new contract if both sides accept it.

Capsambelis said the report would be made public if either side rejects it, and a second vote would be required. Negotiations would resume if both parties reject the report.

The union president could not confirm whether teachers would strike in January if an agreement is not reached.

Its members voted Oct. 10 to authorize its negotiating team to call a strike if necessary.

“The REA is hopeful that an agreement can be reached as soon as possible so that we can focus on the education of the children of the Verona and Oakmont communities,” Capsambelis said.

The union’s 90 members have been without a contract since July. The last contract was a four-year deal.

There are about 995 students in the district from Oakmont and Verona.

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