By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
DANVILLE — All the members of the Danville Education Association, approximately 190 teachers in total, will picket from 9 a.m. to noon today on Route 11 near Danville High School and Primary School.
Today is the last scheduled day of the strike, which began last Thursday. Danville teachers have been protesting what they see as unfair contract negotiations with the Danville school board. The teachers and school board have been negotiating a new contract since the end of June, 2012.
The strike is “going extremely well,” said Dave Fortunato, president of the DEA. “The support has been overwhelming.”
The DEA members had been spread out at locations by all four district, but the union wanted to bring all its members together in one show of solidarity for the strike’s end, Fortunato said.
The location by the high school was chosen because it was the only place where all the teachers could fit, Fortunato said.
The strike began April 17, after a final negotiation session between the district and teachers on April 16 failed to yield a contract. The DEA has regularly pointed to a report from a state-appointed fact-finder from last spring that suggested a series of salary and benefit increases based on district financial data. The DEA has requested salary increases lower than what the fact-finder suggested, Fortunato said.
The school district has maintained that both the fact-finder’s and teacher’s requested increases are financially unfeasible in the face of the district’s rising, state-mandated contributions to retirement funds and insurance.
The strike can only last until Friday due to the state Department of Education requiring 180 days of education by June 15. The strike has pushed back the district’s originally scheduled graduation date.
A US News & World Reports article recently ranked Danville as the 26th best high school in the state.
The report “shows the community what an excellent district we have, and that’s because of the people in the classroom and administration working together to move this district forward,” Fortunato said.
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