The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

April 15, 2014

Danville teacher strike may last 6 days

DANVILLE — The Danville teachers strike is expected to last five to six days, according to the leader of the Danville Education Association.

The length of the strike is determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which states that a strike cannot prevent a district from having 180 days of instruction before June 15. The work stoppage “will be as long as PDE allows us,” said Dave Fortunato, president of the DEA.

There are currently no signs that the Thursday teacher strike will be delayed according to both Fortunato and Allan Schappert, president of the Danville school board.

“Right now nothing has changed,” Schappert said.

“Everything is on for the work stoppage for Thursday. There’s no reason to think otherwise,” Fortunato said.

Both groups have one last negotiation session at 6 p.m., Wednesday, at the Danville High School.

Fortunato declined to go into details about what the DEA would do if they still felt they did not have a fair contract following the strike. “We’re concerned with the now,” he said.

When asked if the DEA would consider a strike at the start of the next school year, he said that would be an option available to them if needed.

The school district will use their Global Connect dialing service to update parents with any additional information, Schappert said.

The district’s most recent contract with its teachers expired at the end of June, 2012. Teacher salaries during that contract ranged from $40,704 to $71,011, depending on a teacher’s degree and length of time with the district.

In March, the school board publicly revealed a contract offer it had made to the DEA back in February. This offer, rejected by the DEA, included approximately $832,000 to be divided among the wages of the DEA’s 190 members. The combined wages and benefits increase to be divided among the DEA’s members was $3.345 million. School board records show this would have been an 8.26 percent increase to teacher wages and a 23.72 percent increase to combined wages and benefits packages.

The DEA filed unfair labor charges against the district for publicly revealing that information, but the state labor board dismissed those charges last week.

Fortunato and the DEA have regularly pointed to a state fact-finder’s report from last spring which recommended a series of salary raises for the teachers based on financial information provided by the district. The DEA has regularly asked for salary increases that came in lower than the fact-finder’s report, Fortunato said.

The school district rejected the fact-finder’s report as financially unfeasible.

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