East Allegheny board rejects fact-finder's report
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East Allegheny school board on Monday night rejected by a 7-1 vote a fact-finder's report of recommendations for teacher pay increases.
Director Beverly Koch was opposed.
Lou Gerbi, president of the East Allegheny Education Association, the district's teachers' union, said he was extremely disappointed by the vote.
In a written statement, he said the teachers accepted several concessions in the fact-finder's report to help the district.
Before the meeting, Mr. Gerbi said he hoped if the board rejected the report, the association and district would come to an agreement on the contract quickly.
School Director Frank Pearsol III said the fact-finder's report recommended:
• A pay freeze for teachers during the first year of the contract, then a one-step pay increase plus a 0.5 percent raise during the second year.
• A one-step pay increase plus a 0.5 percent raise the third year of the contract.
He said the recommendation would have meant a 4 percent increase in wages for teachers during each of the contract's second and third years.
In rejecting the report, the district said the state has determined that the East Allegheny School District has the second-highest equalized mills of the 42 Allegheny County school districts, and the fourth-highest in Pennsylvania.
Equalized millage is a standardized figure arrived at by dividing a district's total market value into total taxes collected. It can be used to rank school district tax rates.
Mrs. Koch, a teacher at Forbes Road Career and Technology Center, was in favor of accepting the report. She said she felt the fact-finder's report was fair and that the teachers came a long way in negotiations.
"I had to vote my conscience," she said after the meeting.
A number of teachers wearing red T-shirts attended the meeting.
Ten local residents also spoke during the citizens' comment period before the vote.
Dawn Richardson-Frank, a parent, spoke in favor of the teachers' position and mentioned the financial state of the district.
"I need to know where administrators are going to be cut, not hired ... I want to know where else you plan to cut," she said.
During a special meeting May 30, the superintendent's daughter, Betsy D'Emidio, was hired to be an assistant secondary principal; Angela McEwen was hired as an elementary assistant principal; and four secondary teachers, including one art/graphics teacher, one math teacher and two science teachers were hired.
A district official said several administrative assistants accepted a wage freeze.
"Was there a position created for your daughter?" resident Rick Stevenson asked superintendent Roger D'Emidio.
"It wasn't created for my daughter ... My daughter went through the process and was qualified for it," Mr. D'Emidio said.
A district official said the two new principals will rotate from building to building to help district teachers.
On Monday night, the school board also unanimously passed a $30,316,657 final budget for the 2012-13 school year that will keep real estate taxes at 27.54 mills.
Toni Valicenti, district business manager, said school directors didn't want to raise taxes for increased wages or for any other reason.
"We don't want to raise taxes for our residents. That would be the bottom line," board President Gerri McCullough said after the vote.
First Published June 14, 2012 5:02 am