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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Contract negotiations resumed Friday between the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and the Pittsburgh Public School District.
In the late afternoon, union president Nina Esposito-Visgitis texted KDKA money editor Jon Delano that “we’re still here working hard.”
Shortly thereafter, Superintendent Anthony Hamlet issued a statement, saying, they are “working as hard and as diligently as possible to reach an agreement.”
Both sides say they want to avoid a strike and get a fair contract.
“We want our parents and community to know we’re going to do everything we can to avoid that,” said Esposito-Visgitis.
“The teachers and other rogue groups, they work for the district. They are my employees. So one of the things I want them to know is I want them to be happy. I want to give them a fair contract,” said Hamlet.
But what exactly is a fair contract depends on which side you talk to.
Hamlet says there are two major dispute points — principals’ autonomy and teacher churn.
Currently, teachers are allowed to override the principal on class schedules and teaching assignments.
In schools where need is the highest, with poverty rates as high as 90 percent, staff turnover is nearly 30 percent.
It’s not clear if, when, and how these issues will be resolved.
As for a strike, although union negotiators were given the right to call a strike, state law requires 48 hour advance notice from the union to the school district.
Students were told by some teachers on Friday that school is open on Monday and that the earliest a strike could take effect would be next Tuesday.
It’s been decades since Pittsburgh has seen a school strike, and both sides hope it can be avoided this year.
Negotiations ended around 11:30 p.m. Friday after a 14-hour session. Another meeting has been set for next week.