Keystone Oaks teachers union will strike Feb. 1; classes canceled indefinitely

CASTLE SHANNON, Pa. — The Keystone Oaks Education Association announced it will strike on Monday, Feb. 1, since a new contract agreement was not reached Sunday.

A news release from the school board said it could not reach an agreement with the teachers union, so classes are canceled for the time being. The school board said the work stoppage can last a maximum of only six days because of the lack of make-up days available before June 15 -- when the district’s final day of school is set for.

In April last year, the school board said in the release it offered the union a one-year extension on their current contract that would have kept expected salary increases in place for the current school year. The union rejected the offer.

The board expects declining revenue for the next few years “due to the long-term effects of the pandemic” on top of rising costs for charter school tuition.

Details of the most recent proposal included:

  • A five year contract, effective July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2025.
  • Proposed salaries over the five-year agreement:
  • 2020-2021: Salary freeze
  • 2021-2022: Salaries increase by 5.43%
  • 2022-2023: Salaries increase by 4.89%
  • 2023-2024: Salaries increase by 4.38%
  • 2024-2025: Salaries increase by 3.18%
  • For the 2020-2021 school year, KOEA members have been offered a healthcare credit that would offset the increase in their contribution for this school year. This would ensure that no member is receiving less take-home pay than in 2019-2020.

KOEA is prepared to strike if an agreement is not reached by February 1.

Posted by Keystone Oaks Education Association on Friday, January 22, 2021

Union president Kevin Gallagher told Channel 11 they’ve been working on this contract for more than a year. He said what the district put on the table was not done in good faith.

“You want to give a respectful offer. You want to slide an offer across the table that is in good faith because ultimately, when this happens, it’s the students that suffer. As a teacher, I can’t talk about how bad I feel about that,” he said.

While classes are canceled, the school board said the following will be in effect:

  • Athletic practices and games will continue for in-season sports. Conditioning for out-of-season sports will not be held during the work stoppage.
  • Students who attend Parkway West Career & Technical Center will continue to attend at their regular time and transportation will continue to be provided for these students.
  • Transportation will continue to be provided for students with out-of-district placements and those who attend private or parochial schools.
  • The free meals program will continue, with curbside pick-up being held between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at each building. Families are encouraged to order meals for multiple days and should reach out to the food service manager at their pick-up site in advance to pre-order meals.