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Shaler Area School Board, teachers reach contract agreement through Aug. 15, 2021

| Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, 3:30 p.m.
The Shaler Area School Board and Shaler Area Education Association ratified a five-year contract agreement running from Aug. 16, 2016 to Aug. 15, 2021. Front row: Director of Human Resources Gary Mignogna; school board vice President April Kwiatkowski; teachers union President Melissa Ravas; acting superintendent Vic Morrone; assistant superintendent Bryan O’Black; and school director Bill Couts. Back row: School board President John Fries; teachers Jason Pirring and Craig Wells.
The Shaler Area School Board and Shaler Area Education Association ratified a five-year contract agreement running from Aug. 16, 2016 to Aug. 15, 2021. Front row: Director of Human Resources Gary Mignogna; school board vice President April Kwiatkowski; teachers union President Melissa Ravas; acting superintendent Vic Morrone; assistant superintendent Bryan O’Black; and school director Bill Couts. Back row: School board President John Fries; teachers Jason Pirring and Craig Wells.

Shaler Area School Board approved an early-bird five-year contract with the Shaler Area Education Association.

The new contract, which was unanimously approved by the board Oct. 21 at its regular voting meeting, will begin Aug. 16, 2016 and expire Aug. 15, 2021.

The teachers ratified the contract on Oct. 20.

“We're pretty excited that we're entering this new era of a relationship with the bargaining unit,” said board President John Fries. “As the spokesman of the board, we're all thrilled…. I think this is a weight off of all of our shoulders and we really look forward to the next five years.”

The contract includes an addition 1.5 percent average increase each year to teachers' salaries through the life of the contract, said district communications specialist Bethany Baker.

With that increase, the average salary increase for teachers will be 4.6 percent per year.

To offset the costs of the additional salary increases, the negotiations team found “innovative savings” in supplemental salaries and extra duty pay, Baker said.

The starting salary for full-time professional teachers will increase to $47,724 in year five of the contract, “reflecting the district's focus on attracting the highest quality teachers to the district,” Baker said. In comparison, the starting salary for a teacher in the current contract is $40,009.

There is a rate hold on the health care premium contribution for teachers in the first year of the contract. Teachers with individual and family coverage will see their rates increase incrementally after that.

“What we've done collectively with the association, our school board and central office team, it's huge what we've done,” said Vic Morrone, acting superintendent.

The early-bird contract was a welcome change from the last round of contract negotiations between the district and teachers union, which represents 385 teachers.

In September 2013, after going more than two years without a new contract, Shaler Area teachers went on strike and delayed the start of school by more than a week.

District officials and the teachers union approved a contract on Sept. 12, 2013 retroactive to August 2011 that ran through Aug. 15, 2016.

Shaler Area Education Association President Melissa Ravas said they were looking forward to new beginnings and moving forward and “getting to the business of educating our kids.”

“With the obstacles that we came up against, we appreciated the fact that people didn't bring problems to the table, but brought solutions,” Ravas said of negotiations. “We're very happy.”

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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