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Bethel Park students will not be in school Monday

| Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010

Most students in the Bethel Park School District are not to report to school tomorrow as a teacher strike enters its fifth week.

The Bethel Park Federation of Teachers offered Friday to end the strike if the district renews an expired contract with annual raises. School board president Donna Cook said today that the board was "still looking into what that means."

A bargaining session is scheduled for tomorrow, Cook said.

The union's proposal for an extension of up to three years came after five contentious negotiating sessions and two school board meetings that drew angry teachers and parents. The union's 391 members walked out Oct. 25, having worked under terms of a contract that ended in June.

If the strike hasn't ended by Dec. 5, the state will require the teachers to return to work and both sides to enter arbitration so students can get 180 days of instruction before June 15, as required by state law.

About 425 seniors are being taught by district administrators – principals or assistant principals from each school in the district -- at Independence Middle School in order to squeeze in enough instructional time to keep their planned June 4 graduation date. For those students, attendance tomorrow is required.

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