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TASD teachers vote on state contract recommendation

Back to school!

Tyrone Area School District students returned to classes Wednesday with the threat of a strike looming. Members of the teacher association voted Tuesday night on a state contract recommendation, and the group plans on releasing its vote results to the district on Friday. (The Daily Herald/Rob Carolus)

Tyrone Area school students returned to classes this morning, just one day after the latest chapter was logged in the continuing saga of the district’s teachers contract dispute. Tuesday night, members of the Tyrone Area Education Association voted on a recommendation handed down by the state Labor Relations Board fact finder. The results of that state report issued Monday have yet to be made public and won’t be divulged until the school board has the chance to vote on it.
That vote will come sometime after the teachers association releases the results of its Tuesday night vote to the board.
“We are very hopeful that an agreement can be reached,” commented TASD superintendent Dr. William Miller. The superintendent said he was obligated under state law to withhold further comment on the issue until school board members had the chance to review the results of the teachers association’s vote and then vote on the state report themselves.
Stephen Everhart, Tyrone Area School District English department chair and negotiator for the teachers association, told The Daily Herald in an interview Tuesday evening that the association intends to release the results of its vote to the school board before week’s end.
“We’ll be reporting our vote to the school board on Friday,” Everhart said. “Outside of that, I really can’t get in to too many details. State law forbids me to discuss specifics before the school board has a chance to vote on the state recommendation.
“Also, the details of the state report cannot be made public until both sides has the chance to vote on it.”
When asked how he thought the school board would act, he said he’s unsure.
“It’s hard to predict anything they’ll do,” he said.
State involvement in the contract dispute effectively delayed the chance for a teacher walkout until Sept. 5. The previous teacher contract expired on June 30.
Everhart said Tyrone teachers are hoping to restructure the rate at which pay raises are earned. He said when you compare the pay structure at Tyrone to other neighboring districts, it takes too long for Tyrone teachers to reach their maximum career salaries.
According to the structure under the expired contract, 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 other nearby districts, Everhart said. A teacher at neighboring Bellwood-Antis, by comparison, 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.
Sid Young, the regional field director for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said the Tyrone school board must hold a public meeting within 10 days to vote to accept or reject the report. He said if both sides accept, there will be a contract. If the teachers or the school board reject the report, it will be made public.
Should the sides not reach agreement, there would be a cooling-off period before a second vote would take place five to 10 days later.
If no agreement is met after the second vote, teachers would be able to strike. This could happen as early as Sept. 11 should the sides find they are unable to agree.
Should a strike become imminent, teachers would be required to notify the public 48 hours before a strike occurs.