It was standing room only at Monday night's meeting of East Allegheny school board, when a number of teachers attended to hear a statement by East Allegheny Education Association president Lou Gerbi.
Mr. Gerbi said the teachers "have not taken a strike vote yet, but our patience is waning," after 254 days without a contract.
Assembled teachers cheered after his statement. A number of them wore white T-shirts that read, "No Contract Yet. Still Here for Our Kids."
Mr. Gerbi and school director Frederick Miller have been holding one-on-one negotiation sessions to try to reach agreement on a new contract.
Mr. Gerbi said before the meeting there has not been much progress during the talks. He said he is not sure when the next negotiation session will be held.
Mr. Miller said teachers rejected two district offers that fell between the district's position and recommendations of a fact-finder's report. Mr. Miller said the teachers did not offer any counter proposals between the district's position and that of the fact-finder. Instead, they made offers that were more expensive to the district than recommendations in the fact-finder's report, Mr. Miller said.
District officials and school board member Roxanne Eichler have said they are unwilling to raise taxes again to pay for raises for the teachers, since the homeowners of the East Allegheny School District already have the third-highest real estate tax burden in the state under an equalized millage calculation.
After Monday's meeting, Toni Valicenti, East Allegheny business manager, said the district's 128 teachers in October 2012 had an average salary of $68,560. According to a handout from the superintendent, East Allegheny district residents have a median household income of $25,000 per year.
Before Monday's meeting, school board members recognized members of the high school boys' basketball team, which took East Allegheny to the WPIAL playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades.
Anne Cloonan, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org