Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Union Says Teachers Won't Give Up Seniority District Wants Pft to Consider Allowing Furloughs Based on Other Factors

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Union Says Teachers Won't Give Up Seniority District Wants Pft to Consider Allowing Furloughs Based on Other Factors

Article excerpt

Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito- Visgitis is emphatic that her union will not consider giving up seniority in the determination of furloughs that its members are facing in the coming months.

But that won't stop Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent Linda Lane from continuing to ask for a discussion on the matter.

"It would be a tough discussion. I know why the PFT would have to consider it carefully," Ms. Lane said.

The school board on Wednesday approved a resolution by an 8-1 vote that directs Ms. Lane to enter into discussions with teachers union officials about the dissolution of seniority.

In a statement at the conclusion of that meeting and again in a news conference Friday, Ms. Esposito-Visgitis cited the district's teacher contract and the state school code, both of which call for teachers to be furloughed based on seniority. She said the union has no intention of deviating from that criteria, which all 500 public districts in the state use.

"They say they want to pick and choose. We say there is no way to do that in a fair and just way," Ms. Esposito-Visgitis said.

The union leader said any deviation from the seniority system could result in decisions being made on popularity or lack of it or for economic reasons. She said she feared teachers with more experience and higher salaries could be targeted for furloughs for financial reasons.

Because of a projected deficit, the district plans to eliminate 350 to 400 teacher, counselor and social worker positions in the coming months. The number of furloughs won't be determined until retirements and resignations are factored in.

Even though Ms. Esposito-Visgitis left no wiggle room in her position on the issue, Ms. Lane said Friday that she will continue to try to get a discussion going on the issue because she believes it's what's "in the best interest of children. …

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