Shaler Area School District officials and its teachers' union will meet this evening and again on Tuesday to discuss salary, workload, health care contributions and working conditions.
Melissa Ravas, president of Shaler Area Education Association, said those are the major issues the teachers are objecting to in an independent fact-finder's report that was issued in May and voted down twice, though the school board voted twice to accept the findings.
The district's 390 teachers have been working without a contract for two school years.
They announced last Thursday that they will go on strike when the new school year begins if they have not reached a new contract.
When the teachers' union rejected the report a second time, on June 6, school board President James Giel asked teachers in a letter June 7 to meet as soon as possible with district officials to discuss the teachers' objections to the report and to hear the association's proposal for "resolving this matter."
Dates to return to the bargaining table were offered in the letter, and the two sides will meet this evening with Mr. Giel present.
After the teachers requested a board member join the talks earlier this year, school board Vice President Domenic Donovan became part of negotiations. Mrs. Ravas said the teachers are pleased that the board president will now join meetings. "We've been asking for that for quite some time, and we're really happy he's agreed to take that step."
Though the district and board made no comment on the teachers' strike threat, Mrs. Ravas said the teachers would prefer contract settlement to a strike.
"We're hoping it doesn't come down to that," she said. "But we've been at this a long time."
Rita Michel, freelance writer: email@example.com.