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Teachers In Peters Township Hit Picket Lines

PETERS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) - After last-minute negotiations failed, teachers in Peters Township are on strike.

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

As of 7 a.m., 284 teachers are on strike and thousands of students are out of the classroom.

Wearing bright blue ponchos on the side of the road, it was hard to miss the Peters Township teachers, who lined up in front of the schools along East McMurray Avenue.

"We will be on strike for 21 days, starting today," AFTPA representative Paul Homer said.

Twenty-one days is the maximum number of days teachers can strike. Both sides said no one is budging from key issues. For the teachers, one of the major sticking points is health care.

Also, they say some teachers have been working longer days and jump around through the day to different schools. Another issue is salary. The union said while they can't discuss the current demand, initially teachers wanted a raise of $2,500 a year for five years.

"We certainly believe that we are well worth that," Homer said.

"We greatly value our teachers. You cannot put a value on what they do, but we're not immune to the financial realities of our times. We cannot negotiate beyond our means," Peters Township Superintendent Jeannine French said.

For parents throughout Peters Township, the strike is already proving to be a burden.

"It puts more strain on us because more money and everything else we already pay for school taxes," Randy Strack said.

Strack is one of the lucky ones. He was able to get his daughter, Samantha, into the extended day program, which is now being offered for the entire day since it's run by an outside organization.

But, it also comes with an additional cost.

"If you got a spot you can actually do it from seven o'clock in the morning until six o'clock that you can pick them up from work," Strack said.

"The strike is not going to bring us any closer together. It's only going to serve to harm our children and families," French said.

There's no word when the two sides will meet again. If teachers strike the full 21 days, it would mean staff and students would not return to the classroom until the day after Thanksgiving.

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