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Peters Twp. Teachers Will Strike After Failing To Reach Agreement With School District

PETERS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) -- Teachers will hit the picket lines Wednesday morning in the Peters Township School District.

After meeting into the late hours of Tuesday, both the district and the teachers walked out of negotiations around 11:30 p.m.

They say they were unable to make any progress on the issues of wage and health care. That means 285 teachers and staff members will walk off the job Wednesday morning. They will picket at at least four locations starting at 7 a.m.

Paul Homer, the staff representative from the American Federation of Teachers, said Tuesday night that the walkout would definitely last 21 days and no new negotiations are set during that time period.

He said it appears right now that the students won't go back to school until the day after Thanksgiving break.

It's a 21-day work stoppage under the law.

The school district released a statement Tuesday night after talks broke down. In it, School District Superintendent Dr. Jeannine French said:

"I am very disappointed with the union leadership's decision to strike. This will not bring us any closer to resolution, and the decision to strike will only hurt our children and families."

The Peters Township High School marching band went on with their usual practice Tuesday evening as this latest attempt at negotiations got underway, but parents were left to worry about what would happen.

Meanwhile, right next door to the field, negotiators from the district and the teachers' union sat down for a 17th time to try to hammer out a contract.

The teachers have been working under the old labor agreement which expired Aug. 31. Healthcare and wages are the sticking points.

"I do believe everybody's entitled to an increase, said Rick Kolesar, a parent. "I figure that's fair, but something that's off the table or very expensive for the district, it puts the taxpayers at a burden."

"One of our big concerns is our daughter's a senior, and you know, have a couple days off, but toward the end of the year with the college situation and the graduation situation, it's going to really be tough on us, it's going to be tough on her," Jerry Strennen, another parent, said.

The district says it brought in a mediator to handle talks this weekend because of the tone of recent negotiations.

The district had already implemented a two-hour delay for Wednesday morning, but now there will be no school for students of the district.

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