Strike over: Shaler Area Education Association, board reach agreement



SHALER TOWNSHIP, Pa. - A tentative agreement has been reached between the Shaler Area Education Association and the school board, ending an eight-day strike that began last week.

According to the district's website, the teachers' union ratified the deal Wednesday morning and the nine-member school board is scheduled to review the agreement at a public, special meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the Shaler Area Middle School auditorium, 1800 Mount Royal Blvd.

Channel 11’s Renee Kaminski reported that the district's 390 teachers will return to work Thursday and students will return to class Friday. The teachers have been on strike since Sept. 3, the day classes were to have begun for the 2013-14 school year.

Melissa Ravas, president of the Shaler Area Education Association, said the new five-year contract settles disagreements on health care premiums but does not address teacher salaries.

The district is slated to enter binding arbitration with union officials, selecting a regional three-person panel to evaluate each side's final offer. The panel's decision will be non-negotiable.

Superintendent Wes Shipley said both parties made significant concessions at meetings Monday and Tuesday, both led by a state-appointed mediator.

“We were at complete impasse there, however, we were able to resolve every other issue,” Shipley said.

The contract includes increases in health insurance contributions. HMO family coverage will increase 150 percent to $100 a month. Shipley, who declined to detail the full contract, said teachers agreed to increases in all plans.

“I’m glad our students will be back in class just like the teachers are at this time,” Shipley said.

Parents were excited to hear the news Wednesday afternoon, as well.

“I’m very, very happy they are going back to school. I’m excited for Friday,” parent Christine Taylor said.