Both sides hopeful in Redbank talks

Staff writer

Both sides in the continuing labor dispute in the Redbank Valley School District are entering tonight’s (Sept. 23) negotiating session with a positive outlook.

“The district’s negotiations committee has formulated proposals for both the teachers and support staff associations with recurring expenses like salary and benefits set to the maximum of what it can offset in new revenue from annual tax increases,” said the district’s lead negotiator, Chad Shaffer.

Shaffer said the school board has given its approval to proceeding with the proposals.

“The district’s labor attorney is drafting the documents for the proposals to be presented at the negotiating session Thursday night,” he said. “We feel the offers are strong and represent the best the district can do. We sincerely hope the associations find them acceptable.”

Patrick Andrekovich, PSEA negotiator, for the Redbank Valley Education Association, said he hopes to receive “a legitimate proposal” from the board’s team.

“We would love to be back in the classroom on Friday if possible,” said Andrekovich.”If not, next Monday at the latest, but that is up to the board. Our hope is that during the last several weeks they have taken to run the numbers, they find the $1.2 million dollars in proposed concessions by the teachers to be enough.

“We also hope that during the past few weeks they have been able to locate the $140,000 Dr. Shaffer has cited in the more than $4.5 million dollars they have in reserves and the $3.5 million in stimulus funds to end the strike and get the kids and teachers back in the classroom.”

The Redbank Valley teachers went on strike on Sept. 13.

Andrekovich said Wednesday the Redbank Valley Education Association had been notified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education that the strike that began Monday could not go beyond Oct. 19. The district must, by law, complete 180 days of education by June 30.