East Allegheny, teachers still negotiating

Contract talks failed this week

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The East Allegheny School District and the East Allegheny Education Association will renew talks after negotiations Tuesday failed to produce a teachers' contract agreement.

Bruce Campbell, attorney for the district, said teachers came to the table with proposals similar to those they submitted before a fact-finder's report was issued in June. School directors were surprised the teachers' proposal was not based on that report, he said.

Board members want to see the 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, he said.

He said there has been a recession, the state has obligations it can't meet, and the East Allegheny district has the third highest relative tax burden among 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.

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

Of the 161 teachers' contracts that expired statewide at midnight June 30, when East Allegheny's did, 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 that percentage to 34.2.

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

Lou Gerbi, president of the teachers' union, did not respond to an email asking for comment.

education - neigh_east

Anne Cloonan, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com


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