The contacts for paraprofessionals and technical clericals have yet to be worked out between PPS and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.By Royce Jones

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — More than 500 workers across Pittsburgh Public Schools are working with expired contracts.

This includes those in the paraprofessional and technical clerical units whose agreements were up in June 2020.

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“It’s not just myself. …It’s a lot of us. And we’re a little fed up now,” one paraprofessional told KDKA.

The assistant teacher works with students with special needs in the district. She loves her children and has more than 20 years of experience, but the teacher told KDKA some staffers feel undervalued.

“I almost forgot about it until the teachers got their contract and it made me realize, like wait a minute, let me check my paycheck to see if I got my little raise. And I didn’t. I felt hurt. I felt mistreated, like my job doesn’t care,” she said.

While teachers received their new professional contract in August 2021, the contacts for paraprofessionals and technical clericals have yet to be worked out between PPS and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.

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“We value our paras and our TCs,” said Nina Esposito-Visgitis, president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. “Their work is instrumental to what we do every day to support our teachers and schools.”

Esposito-Visgitis said the three contracts are typically tackled at once, but issues surrounding bus driver shortages and school start times needed immediate action and could only be addressed through finalizing the professional contract.

“We had to complete that one and get the school year started. And we were hopeful the other two would fall into place quickly. But then life happened. (Superintendent) Dr. (Anthony) Hamlet left, trouble with buses, trouble with subs,” Esposito-Visgitis said.

And while neither the district nor the union could address what is being discussed at the bargaining table, both confirmed compensation and working conditions have also been holding things back.

“We certainly hope we can come to a resolution quickly because these are valued employees, and we want to be fair,” Pittsburgh Public Schools Solicitor Ira Weiss said.

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Both sides are set to meet Friday and tell KDKA they are feeling hopeful an agreement could be reached.