East Allegheny negotiation session fails

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The East Allegheny School District and the East Allegheny Education Association are back to the drawing board after negotiations tonight failed to produce a teachers' contract agreement.

Bruce Campbell, labor attorney for the school district, said teachers came to the table with proposals similar to those they submitted before a fact finder's report was issued in June, with two modifications.

School directors were surprised the teachers' proposal was not based on the fact finder's report, he said.

Board members would like to see a copy of the recent fact finder's report that led to a successfully negotiated teachers' contract in the Steel Valley School District, and other successfully negotiated agreements, he said.

Then, the board will get back to the union about setting up a meeting, and present a counterproposal, Mr. Campbell said.

Money is at the heart of the East Allegheny fact finder's report, and such reports Mr. Campbell has seen generally, he said.

He said there has been a recession, the state has obligations it can't meet, and the East Allegheny School District has the third highest relative tax burden out of Pennsylvania's 499 school districts.

He said the relative tax burden of Pennsylvania school districts is calculated by the State Tax Equalization Board, which calculates districts' tax burden in "equalized mills."

"It's hard to raise taxes when you're already the third highest-taxed school district in the state," he said.

The residents of East Allegheny School District don't have high salaries to tax, either, he said. Mr. Campbell said the 2000 census showed individual East Allegheny residents having per capita incomes of $16,497, and families having a median income of $37,169.

Of the 161 teachers' contracts that expired statewide at midnight, June 30, 2012, at the same time that the East Allegheny teachers' contract expired, only six have settled, he said.

In addition to cuts in state education funding, school Director Roxanne Eichler said the state, which now funds school employee pensions at 74.1 percent, will drop the percentage of school pensions it funds to 34.2 percent.

School districts will be required to make up the difference in pension fund contributions, she said.

Lou Gerbi, president of the East Allegheny Education Association, the teachers' union, did not respond to an e-mail sent Tuesday afternoon asking him to comment later after the negotiation session. education - neigh_east


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