Contract to lengthen school day in Pine-Richland

Contract to lengthen school day in Pine-Richland

Thursday, October 19, 2006

By Maureen Byko
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pine-Richland School District has a new teachers' contract that provides average salary increases of 5.72 percent, or $3,192 per year, and eventually lengthens the school day and year.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to ratify the four-year contract. The teachers approved the pact earlier that day.

In the third year of the agreement, the school day will be extended by 15 minutes. Two additional student days will be added, one in 2007-08 and one in 2008-09.

Teachers have agreed to give up two days they previously were granted to take preapproved time off for continuing education.

By the end of the contract period, the district will have a 186-day schedule.

Only one district in the state has a longer school year, according to district officials.

"One of the largest contributing factors to increasing student achievement is time spent in the classroom," Superintendent James Manley said. "We are very pleased teachers will be spending more time on task, providing our students more direct instruction."

When the new contract concludes in 2010, the starting annual salary in Pine-Richland will be $41,330, according to district figures. The highest salary for a teacher with a master's degree will be $93,182, and the average salary will be $54,299. The average teacher's salary in the state at that time is projected to be $55,863.

In addition to salaries and the length of the school day and work year, health-care costs and the length of the contract were major issues in the negotiations, according to the district.

The teachers union consented to paying more for health care. Under the new contract, teachers will pay 5 percent of the premium costs per month for health insurance. The previous contract required a flat-rate contribution of $20 per month for all teachers.

The district wanted the teachers to pay a percentage of the premiums to offset future insurance increases and to allow for varying levels of coverage selected by individual teachers.

"The board believed it was important for teachers to share in the financial risk associated with rising health-care costs," board President Gary Deschamps said.

The new contract formalizes a tentative agreement reached Sept. 27 between the district's negotiating committee and the Pine-Richland Education Association.

The previous contract expired June 30. The district's 320 teachers have been working since August under the terms of the old contract.

"The district got some things we wanted, and I know the teachers got a few things they wanted," Mr. Deschamps said. "It turned out to be a pretty fair agreement."

Jill Linsz, a spokeswoman for the education association, said the teachers also were pleased with the pact.

First published on October 19, 2006 at 12:00 am

Maureen Byko is a freelance writer.