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Chambersburg teachers push back strike date after progress made

Written by Ashley Books/The Chambersburg Public Opinion | Nov 10, 2017 6:20 PM
chambersburg_teachers_strike.jpg

(Photo: Markell DeLoatch, Public Opinion)

(Chambersburg) -- Teachers will not go on strike Monday in Chambersburg Area School District.

Schools will be open, and all school-related activities will go on as planned.

But the possibility of a strike later remains. 

The teachers' strike originally planned for Monday has been rescheduled after both the Chambersburg Area Education Association and the Chambersburg Area school bard made progress at the two meetings this week, according to a joint statement on the district's website

Both sides met twice this week, on Tuesday and Thursday. 

Although there are still issues on the table that must be resolved before a tentative agreement can be reached, the statement said, the union told the district it would reschedule its strike from Monday to Wednesday, Nov. 29. 

Another negotiation session is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 16. 

"The District will continue to bargain in good faith with the CAEA in the hopes of avoiding any disruptions to the educational process," the statement said. 

Cindy Bowen, co-president of the teachers union, declined to provide further comment. 

A mediator advised both parties to keep all information confidential for now, she said. 

Bowen did say, however, that the union hopes to wrap up negotiations at the session on Thursday. 

The union and school board have been negotiating a new contract for teachers since early this year. The teachers are currently working under the terms of the old contract, which expired the end of June. 

Salary increases and health care have been the two sticking points. 

Heading into Thursday's negotiation session, the union and the school board had swapped proposals several times, and compromises had been made. 

The union previously offered to take lower salary increases and to consider a plan that would allow teachers to choose between the high-deductible health care plan the district wants, or keep their preferred provider plan, Bowen said at the time. 

Currently, teachers pay nothing toward their health insurance premiums. The district pays $18,000 a year for each family plan, and $6,800 a year for each single plan. Overall, the district says it pays about $8 million a year to provide health insurance to teachers. 

As for salary, Chambersburg teachers make about $60,825 a year on average - $639 more than the state average - according to the district. The highest salary, for a teacher who has reached the top of the salary scale and has a doctorate, is $73,704. 

The median household income in Pennsylvania for 2015, the most recent available, was $53,599, according to census data. 

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The Chambersburg Public Opinion.

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