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TASD teachers, administrators hope to reach contract agreement

As Tyrone students prepare for the start of classes this week, administrators face the real possibility of a teachers’ walkout; however, classes will indeed begin prior to any feared strike.
Administrators say the reality of a salary-driven strike rides on the results of a report to be issued today by the state Labor Relations Board. Both sides of the dispute — the teachers and the school board — will have a chance to review the results, prepared by a labor board fact finder, prior to another vote on the matter. Teacher negotiator Steve Everhart says the district is in danger of losing many younger instructors due in large part to a sluggish pay scale structure that they say takes too long to accrue.
Bringing in the Labor Relations Board fact-finder delays any work stoppage until at least Sept. 6. That date marks the end of the 10-day cooling-off period required by state law after the report’s release. According to TASD superintendent Dr. William Miller, this gives both sides an opportunity to accept or reject the state’s suggestions on finding common ground on a new contract.
In the event that either side or both sides rejects the report, the cooling-off period would require the board and the association to vote a second time. If the district and its teachers fail to agree on the recommendation after that vote, a walkout could temporarily end classes.
Teachers are hoping to gain some ground in the realm of pay structure and how quickly teachers accumulate raises. As things stand in the current contract, when compared with other districts across the county and state, Everhart said it takes far too long for teachers to reach their maximum career salaries.
According to the current structure, a new teacher gets a starting salary of $32,000, but it would take a new teacher 41 years to reach the maximum salary, far longer than neighboring districts, Everhart said. A teacher at neighboring Bellwood-Antis, however, would reach maximum salary in 15 or 16 years. That translates in a roughly $135,000 difference in cumulative salary over the same time period.
Tyrone teachers haven’t walked off the job since 1972, according to Dr. Miller.