AMBRIDGE (KDKA) — The clock is ticking for teachers in the Ambridge Area School District to decide whether to accept the district’s final contract offer.
An arbitration panel has recommended they accept it and tonight, the school board voted in favor of it.
If the teachers are unwilling to accept the terms of the district’s final offer, they must reject it by Aug. 21, 2017.
If there is no rejection, it will go into effect. If the Ambridge Area Education Association chooses to reject it, they could also choose to go on strike.
“All you have to do is say yes and we have a deal,” said attorney Hobart Webster, as he was representing the Ambridge School Board at a public meeting to explain the terms of the offer.
Negotiations between the Ambridge Area School District and the Ambridge Area Education Association have been going on for two years.
It all centers around three things: salary, health care, and retirement benefits.
“We can have labor peace. We can avoid a strike. We can get people paid — because they haven’t been paid in two years,” Webster said.
Under the district’s proposed three-year deal, new and mid-level teachers would see the biggest increases in pay.
For example, a new teacher making $40,242 a year would immediately make $49,087 and be making $53,629 by the end of the contract.
A teacher working in the district for roughly 10 years making $56,551 would immediately make $61,407 and $65,953 by the end of the deal.
There are 186 teachers in the district and they have not had a raise in two-years.
There was only one person from the Ambridge Area Education Association in attendance and she declined to speak with KDKA.
Superintendent Doctor Jo Welter did explain what the sticking point may be with the deal.
“It does affect the people on the lower salary steps much more than the people on the top, so I think that may be the holdup. But it’s a very fair deal and they haven’t had an increase for two years and it’s really time. We need to get back to the business of teaching kids,” Dr. Welter said.
According to the board, the health insurance premiums the teachers are being asked to pay are about half of what other administrative employees in the district are paying.
“I’m not sure that everyone has taken a good hard look at it to understand it. If they did understand it, I believe they would agree that it’s a good deal,” said Dr. Welter.
The Ambridge Area Education Association will be meeting tomorrow. It is unclear if they will take a vote or just discuss it further.
If they reject it, they are permitted to call a strike, and they must give the district 48 hours notice.