The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Education

October 17, 2013

Residents urge East Allegheny school board to settle with teachers

East Allegheny School District residents on Monday implored directors to reach a contract agreement with the teachers union.

“These teachers dedicate a lot of their time to the students to not have a contract,” Christina Pawlowski said.

The district’s 128 teachers have worked without a contract since the end of the 2011-12 school year.

“We like our teachers, too,” board president Gerri McCullough said. “We think they do a good job. The bottom line is we don’t have any money ... and I have told them this in negotiation. It’s not about whether we think they deserve it.”

School Director Frederick Miller said the district submitted its latest proposal to the East Allegheny Education Association on Aug. 20 and the district is awaiting a response from the union.

Another negotiation meeting has not been scheduled.

Resident Trisa Lesczynski questioned why the district is using attorney Bruce Campbell instead of district Solicitor Dan Beisler.

“Mr. Beisler is our solicitor,” McCullough said. “Mr. Campbell is an attorney that specializes in labor. Also, Mr. Beisler has ties to the community, so we didn’t want to put him in that position. He knows a lot of people here as well as we do. That may put him in a difficult position like we are.”

Lesczynski said she has a problem with the number of district administrators and paying for continuing education for staffers.

“I don’t believe that that should be in the contract at all, and I want my voice heard on that also,” she said.

“We have one of the smallest administrative teams probably in the county,” board director and treasurer Roxanne Sakoian Eichler said. “We have implemented several state-of-the-art programs including the STEM program and the various other programs that are in this building, in Green Valley (Elementary) and at Logan (Middle School).”

Sakoian went on to discuss some of the other programs, including remediation for Keystone Exams, teacher evaluations and other administrative efforts.

“There are many things, wonderful things, going on in this district where administration is necessary,” Eichler said.

She said East Allegheny administrators’ salaries are much smaller than those of other districts.

The district provides updates on contract negotiations on its website, www.eawildcats.com.

“I think it’s useful for people to know what the issues are,” Miller said.

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