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Contract Talks Break Down, Shaler Teachers To Strike

SHALER (KDKA) – Teachers in Shaler will picket starting Tuesday morning after contract talks broke down Monday afternoon.

Last week, the school administration announced that first day of school classes would be canceled because of a threatened strike by the district's nearly 400 teachers.

Teachers in Shaler saw their previous contract expire two years ago.

The Crawford pool is also staying open an extra day because of the strike.

According to the superintendent, school will be closed until further notice.

The teachers union and administrators are facing each other at the bargaining table behind closed doors with a state-appointed mediator.

KDKA caught up with parents at the high school track Monday.

"Well, the kids are looking forward to getting back to school," said Shaler parent Ken Szalinski. "It'd be nice if they could settle things out with regard to the differences."

On the district website, back to school information is buried beneath negotiation updates.

"I think they may go out, I'm not quite sure," said Shaler taxpayer Cindy DellaValle.

After more than seven hours of talks last Friday, Superintendent Dr. Wes Shipley released a letter to the community citing salary scale and teachers' contributions to health benefits as a major obstacle.

"Everyone has to pay more for health care these days," said Shaler parent Josh Newlin. "I side mostly with the teachers on this one. Shaler is one of the lowest paid teaching school districts in Allegheny County."

Five hours of talking that apparently went nowhere – they were done for now. No one was talking on camera.

But Melissa Ravas, president of the Shaler Teacher's Union, says they made an offer last week and the administration had no counter offer.

She says, "The ball is in the district's court. It was their turn to make a move and they chose not to."

"It's frustrating," Shaler parent Chrissy Bartolowits said. "I'm for the teachers, but seeing all that's happening."

Bartolowits and her family drove up to learn the strike was on. They have two elementary school children.

"He thrives on that schedule," she said. "I can tell, it could be a long September, right?"

In a written statement, the District said the union is making unrealistic demands for salary and health care contributions.

Even though no classes are scheduled for Tuesday, the teachers will be on the picket line first thing. One other negotiation session is scheduled before the end of next week, with two more after that.

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