Shaler Area residents speak about stalled teacher contracts

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Shaler Area school board once again drew a large number of residents and teachers to its work session Wednesday night and those who spoke once again expressed exasperation with the negotiations that have dragged on for more than 500 days.

A number of fliers have been circulating in the community over the past two years and John Torchia, a resident of Glenshaw, said he was angry to find one under his windshield wiper when he left church this past Sunday.

First of all, he said, it's illegal to put things on cars. He asked those gathered to "cease and desist" and "put the flier in my hand," the next time someone has something to communicate regarding the contract negotiations.

Board president Jim Giel assured Mr. Torchia: "We had nothing to do with it." Mr. Giel said he heard fliers were left at two area churches this past Sunday.

Mr. Torchia also complained about the lack of a teacher contract. During his career, he successfully negotiated eight collective bargaining agreements.

"You have to actively engage one another to get the job done correctly," he said. That means teachers and school board members meeting fact-to-face, he said.

The teachers who spoke at Wednesday meeting were more concerned about giving Shaler Area students enough classroom time to meet new rigorous curriculum and state testing requirements.

High school teachers Dennis Dudley, science chair, and Paul, Stadelman, math chair, said they were unhappy with the board's 2013-14 school year calendar that begins after Labor Day. "We want our students in class for as much time as possible," Mr. Dudley said. "I think it's academically unsound to start a school year after Labor Day." There are only two other districts in Allegheny County that start after Labor Day, Mr. Dudley said. One of those has a late start because its buildings will be undergoing construction.

"We really, really have to work hard to get everything done in that time," Mr. Stadelman said. "We hope you'll consider our plan. We're concerned purely about academics."

education - neigh_north

Rita Michel, freelance writer:


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