NEW EAGLE, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – More than 200 members of a teachers’ union in the Ringgold School District have gone on strike.
The teachers claim they tried to reach a new contract Tuesday, but say school board negotiators weren’t prepared to make an offer or even discuss key “sticking points” including salaries and health care costs. In general, the teachers in the lower-income district say they make less than others in the greater Pittsburgh area and that some teachers have to take second jobs because of their low pay.
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“For years in the Ringgold School District, we go to bargain and they force us to go backwards in our salary schedule and our benefits and everything else. We’re hoping that from this point we can move forward,” Ringgold Education Association President Maria Degnan said.
The last contract expired in July and the sides have been negotiating for about a year. The sides are next expected to negotiate on Monday.
“We’re fighting for our students because we want the Ringgold School District to be the best. And by having good teachers that stay with us, that’s what we hope to achieve,” Dengan said. We want a fair contract that gives us the respect that we deserve. The respect that we’ve earned. These are dedicated teachers. They don’t want to be out here. They want to be in the classroom with their kids.”
The district says classes are canceled until further notice.
Superintendent Dr. Karen Polkalba issued the following statement Wednesday morning:
Teacher work stoppages are difficult for all parties – parents are concerned for their for their child’s education, teachers want to fulfill their obligation to provide instruction, and the administration and school board are charged with the task of supporting both of these groups within an affordable budget. A negotiation session will be held on Monday, October 23, 2017 at 10:00 AM. The negotiation team lead by Attorney Carl Beard is working diligently to provide the Association with an offer that is fair and equitable to all stakeholders. We are hopeful that our students will return to the classrooms very soon.
According to the district’s website, students in the MVCTC program should still attend their classes at the Career/Tech Center.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)