Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Classes Resume at East Allegheny Students, Teachers Back after 16- Day Strike

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Classes Resume at East Allegheny Students, Teachers Back after 16- Day Strike

Article excerpt

During the 16-day teacher strike in the East Allegheny School District, which kept students home for most of September, Debbie McClelland cared for her two young grandchildren.

Third-grader Joshua, 7, played "Minecraft" with friends, while Ms. McClelland, 52, of Turtle Creek ensured 4-year-old Sydney kept a normal sleep schedule after being sent home two weeks after preschool, taught by East Allegheny teachers, started in mid- August.

Her daughter, Tina, works at the YMCA during the day, and Tina's husband, an exterminator, sometimes clocks 12-hour days.

"I don't know what [Tina] would have done," Ms. McClelland said. "She would have been struggling."

East Allegheny teachers, staff and students returned to school Wednesday morning, although the district and teachers union remain at an impasse in contract negotiations.

Tuesday was the last day teachers could strike and still enable the district to have 180 instructional days by June 15, 2015, as is required by state law.

Cheryl Ihnat, president of the East Allegheny Education Association, said the union's offer remains the same, and the next step will be nonbinding arbitration.

"I'm ready to go back to school," she said as she walked into Logan Middle School on Wednesday morning.

The district last proposed a five-year contract in which wages would be frozen the first two school years, 2012-13 and 2013-14. In the 2014-15 school year, teachers would receive $1,100.

In turn, the association has presented a 2.5-year pay freeze - for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years - and a step up the pay scale halfway through the 2014-15 school year.

Michael Palombo, special labor counsel for the district, could not be reached Wednesday.

The 1,700-student district serves East McKeesport, North Versailles, Wilmerding and Wall, and some middle and high school students from Duquesne. …

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