ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. - Following a school board meeting Tuesday night, the East Allegheny School District’s superintendent told Channel 11’s Courtney Brennan that no progress has been made in negotiations, and the teachers are continuing to strike.
"I feel awfully bad about it, but I want their kids to get the best education possible and to get the best education possible would be for the teachers to come back like they always taught here,” said Superintendent Roger D'Emidio.
Brennan reported tensions were high as striking teachers and school administrators met face to face at a school board meeting Tuesday evening. The heated debate latest two hours.
The meeting was held after teachers submitted a new proposal Tuesday morning.
The Education Association has proposed wage freezes for the first two years of the contract and the first half of this school year. Teachers would get their step increases the remainder of this year, and teachers at the top step would get an additional $500. In education, steps, or years of service, often determine the salary schedule for educators. The next two school years, teachers would get their step increases. Teachers at the top step would get an additional $1,000 in the 2015-2016 school year and an additional $1,300 in the contract's final year.
“They would get us, it’s like a two-and-a-half year freeze. Total freeze, and then we would move on, step halfway through the school year,” said union spokeswoman Cheryl Inhat.
Inhat claims the district has not been fair during negotiations.
“It’s sort of like, you hold our carrot and you think we’re getting someplace, then they take it away or they put something next time on the table that’s completely ridiculous,” Inhat said.
Channel 11's Dave Bondy was there as teachers hit the picket lines early Tuesday morning. The district was supposed to begin school Tuesday.
Some students also joined the picket lines. They want to support their teachers, but also said they’re disappointed they can’t head back to class.
“It’s upsetting that you don’t get to start school and be with your friends. But it’s what they have to do and that’s what’s going to happen,” said student Paige Wusko.
School district officials said graduation day will be pushed back, but a date won’t be set until the strike is over. State law requires students to receive 180 days of instruction.
The school district has 1,700 students and encompasses East McKeesport, North Versailles Township, Wall and Wilmerding.
One parent Channel 11 News spoke to said she moved her child into another district so she could begin school on time.
“You know they want what they want, and they deserve what they want. But yet, my daughter deserves an education and she needs it on time,” she said.
According to state law, the strike can legally only go 16 days and then the teachers need to return to class.
Both sides plan to meet again on Monday.
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