Brentwood teachers walk to show solidarity; teachers in 10 districts lack contracts
Teachers in the Brentwood Borough School District walked into school Friday morning en masse as a sign of solidarity.
A five-year contract between the Brentwood Education Association and the district ended June 30, and teachers said negotiations are stagnant. The two parties have not met since Aug. 3. No dates are set for further negotiations. There are 96 teachers in the association.
“We really want to get back to the table,” Brentwood Education Association President Mary Agnes Galvin said. “We want to get this contract done because we want to concentrate on what is going on in our classrooms. We don't want to have to worry about a contract.”
Brentwood is one of about 10 school districts in Allegheny County where teachers are working under expired contracts, said Matt Edgell, regional advocacy coordinator with the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
He credits the high number of outstanding teacher contracts in Allegheny County and statewide to the state budget impasse.
“They understand that there's a budget stalemate in Harrisburg, which is affecting every bargaining table in every district in the state,” Edgell said. “There are other, noneconomic issues that they'd like to discuss. It's not that the district is bargaining in bad faith, they don't think that at all.”
Brentwood leaders said a lack of a state budget contributes to their negotiations, but is not a defining factor.
“We're not expecting that to be a saving grace,” school board negotiation committee Chairman Gary Topolosky said. Brentwood asked its teachers to take a wage freeze and pay more for health care costs, Topolosky said.
“They countered that with something that was unacceptable,” he said.
The superintendent and business manager took a pay freeze for 2015-16 and seven top administrators gave back a portion of their raises with agreements to take a freeze in 2016-17, Superintendent Amy Burch said.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or email@example.com.