South Butler School District teachers contract talks to resume Tuesday night
With a teachers strike on the horizon Thursday, a negotiating session at the South Butler School District ended after about two hours last night with “no progress to report,” said district Solicitor Thomas Breth.
The teachers union has given the district notice of its intent to strike Thursday morning if a new contract isn't settled by then.
Superintendent David Foley issued a statement to parents last Friday that said all schools will close. However, classes taught at the Butler County Area Vocational-Technical School will continue.
“The Board of School Directors recognizes the disruption and inconvenience that would be caused by a strike, and hopes that an agreement can be reached in an expedient manner,” Foley wrote in the statement. “If an agreement is reached, school could resume as early as Friday, March 16, 2018.”
Monday's bargaining session began at 7 p.m. and ended about 9 p.m., according to Breth. Another session is scheduled for tonight at 7.
Breth said the school board has moved its meeting scheduled for Wednesday to March 21 to accommodate an additional bargaining session in case a resolution isn't reached tonight.
“The board felt they should have that night available to bargain versus having their regular board meeting,” he said. “It's everybody's intent to try to get the contract done.
“If it doesn't get done, technically, the teachers are going to initiate their strike Thursday morning. That's what they said their intent is.”
The teachers' contract expired June 30, 2014, and negotiations have been ongoing since January 2014. The parties have been divided on issues such as the length of the contract, wages and health care coverage.
Brooke Witt, a Pennsylvania State Education Association labor relations consultant who represents the South Butler teachers, previously told the Tribune-Review that the district's 168 teachers are asking for a full settlement back to 2014, which would include appropriate compensation.
If a strike occurs, it will be the district's fifth teachers strike in the past 40 years.
“We're really left with no choice other than exercising our right to strike,” Witt said previously.
Witt could not be reached for comment Monday.
Strike would be limited
The number of class days during which teachers may strike is limited.
They must return by a date that will allow the students to receive 180 days of class instruction.
That date won't be determined until the teachers strike and the district gets the date from the state Education Department, Breth said.
Class days needed to make up missed time will be announced at a later date, the statement said.
Any special events and activities that must be postponed will be rescheduled, if possible. Extracurricular events will be reviewed on an individual basis by school principals.
The district also indicated the following will continue:
• Modified/regular transportation will be provided by the district for students enrolled in nonpublic, special education outside the district, vocational and alternative programs.
• Interscholastic athletic events and practices are expected to continue, if scheduled.
Staff writer Jacob Tierney contributed to this report. Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4702, email@example.com or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.