SHALER (KDKA) – Teachers in Shaler started walking the picket lines Tuesday morning after contract talks with the district broke down.
This is a situation that the teachers’ union wanted to avoid, but they say after the district showed up at their last meeting with no counter-offer, they were left with no choice but to strike.
There was a quiet line of people marching in front of the Shaler Area District Office, but it is not where the teachers want to be.
“We want your kids in school, too. My kids go to school here as well and we want our kids in school. But when the district isn’t making the teachers a priority, then they’re not making the students a priority,” Melissa Ravas said.
School was canceled district-wide Tuesday in anticipation of the strike. Superintendent Dr. Wes Shipley said there is a strong desire from both sides to come to an agreement, but it requires some give and take.
Dr. Shipley also said the district has to be considerate of teachers and tax payers. The two main issues are salaries and teacher contributions to healthcare.
“We hope that they come to the table serious and ready to make an offer. Our hope would be that this would end before we were forced back to work by the Department of Education,” Ravas said.
It could be around Sept. 20 that teachers would be mandated back to work, according to strict laws in Pennsylvania, which require so many days of education. At that point, an arbitrator would intervene.
“The bottom line is it’s the kids that suffer,” Maryanne Reed said.
One thing the district is trying to quickly resolve is what to do about after-school sports and activities.
KDKA-TV’s Heather Abraham was told that there is a lot of non-teaching coaching staff and administrators have also been assigned to each after-school activity and sport.
Homecoming is still on as scheduled.