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Riverview School District, teachers close to new contract

Michael DiVittorio
| Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, 10:57 p.m.

Riverview School District and teachers union officials accepted a fact-finder’s report, avoiding a possible strike and moving a major step closer to finalizing a new five-year contract.

“This is a fair deal,” school Director Alex DiClaudio said after the board’s unanimous vote Jan. 7. “We’re pleased to have gotten this far and pleased to be within sight of the finish line.”

District solicitor Falco Muscante said the report gives the basis for a new contract, but both parties still have to vote again after its final preparation.

The contract would cover the 2018-19 school year through 2022-23.

The board opened up the issue to public comment at the Jan. 7 meeting, but no one spoke. About 20 union members were in attendance. Everyone gave a round of applause after the vote.

The Riverview Education Association asked the state Labor Relations Board to bring in an independent fact-finder after negotiations stalled in November.

The union in October authorized its negotiation team to call a strike, if necessary.

Robert Creo, a Pittsburgh-based mediator and arbitrator, was named the fact-finder. He issued his report Dec. 31. Both parties had until Jan. 10 to accept or reject it.

Union President Mark Capsambelis said his members voted Jan. 4 to accept it.

“Like any negotiation, you always feel like you should have gotten more, but we felt that the fact-finder’s report was a fair deal that will allow the district to rebuild after the damaging cuts to educational programs and staff from the past two years,” Capsambelis said via press release. “We are grateful for the overwhelming support that the communities gave us through this difficult negotiation. We look forward to continuing to provide a top-notch education to the students of the Riverview School District.”

DiClaudio said both sides accepting the fact-finder’s report avoids a strike.

“We stayed at the table and worked out our differences,” said DiClaudio.

Both board President Maureen McClure and Superintendent Peggy DiNinno commended the professionalism of all those involved with the contract.

The two main sticking points in the negotiations were salaries and health care costs.

The union’s press release said the five-year deal freezes teacher pay this school year and includes an average raise of 1.5 percent the remaining four years.

District officials said teachers still would move up a step on the pay scale the first year. That means some would receive salary bump of between $1,000 and about $12,000, depending on their step.

Teachers also would pay more for health care as a result of the compromise.

Muscante said such increases vary per year, with some years remaining stagnant. Those on the individual plan would see their contribution go from $75 to $85 per month by the end of the contract. Others, such as family plans, go from $150 to $200 per month by the end of the contract.

DiNinno said teachers agreed to extend 20 days of work by 30 minutes to focus on more professional community time, which includes evaluating and collaborating on student initiatives and educational practices. The teachers’ calendar would be reduced by two days as a result of the compromise. The change does not impact students’ schedules.

“I believe wholeheartedly that our children would benefit from this,” DiNinno said. “There are a lot of new aspects in the contract that support kids, support learning, empower teachers and build teacher leadership as well.”

The last contract was a four-year deal that expired at the end of last school year.

The union’s 90 members educate about 955 students in the district comprising Oakmont and Verona.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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