Districts' teachers work on despite lack of contracts
As Westmoreland County's 17 school districts get into the full swing of a new school year, teachers in three - Derry Area, Greater Latrobe and Mt. Pleasant Area - remain without contracts.
In addition, Westmoreland County Community College and its 105 faculty members and professional staff have been working without a contract since June 30.
Monessen School District brought its negotiations down to the wire, approving a new five-year pact with its teachers Aug. 21, less than a week before the faculty began the school year. The contract grants the 83 members of the teachers' union salary hikes of $1,800 per year, an average of 2.59 percent annually during the life of the contract.
Under the new pact, a first-year teacher in Monessen will earn $26,800 this year; by the fifth year of the contract, a beginning teacher will earn $28,800.
In the final year of the contract, the salary ceiling for veteran teachers will be $63,150.
Negotiations are continuing in Derry Area, Greater Latrobe and Mt. Pleasant Area, and at the community college. But officials involved in the discussions said no strikes are imminent.
'Talks are ongoing in each of the school districts, and there is no talk of any work stoppages,' said Ron Aiello, district field manager of the Pennsylvania State Education Association's office in New Stanton.
Talks at Derry Area were expected to resume last night, Aiello said. The district's former contract with about 180 teachers expired July 30. According to the state Department of Education, teachers' salaries in Derry Area ranged between $56,298 and $29,661 in 1999-2000.
Aiello said 'contract language' is the major stumbling block in Derry Area, but he declined to elaborate.
He had no further information on what issues remain to be negotiated in Greater Latrobe or Mt. Pleasant Area.
Greater Latrobe's four-year contract with its 250 teachers expired July 31. The salaries in Greater Latrobe ranged between $58,880 and $28,740 in 1999-2000, according to the Department of Education.
Mt. Pleasant Area's five-year contract with its 165 teachers expired Aug. 31. Teachers there received average pay hikes of 4 percent a year under the previous contract.
In 1999-2000, teachers' salaries in Mt. Pleasant Area varied from $55,771 to $28,611, according to the Department of Education.
WCCC President Daniel Krezenski said contract talks between the community college and its staff are scheduled to resume Sept. 12. No further details on those talks were released.