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McKeesport teachers without contract less than 2 weeks before start of school


By Kalea Gunderson

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    MCKEESPORT, Pennsylvania (WTAE) — McKeesport Area School District teachers are without a contract, with school set to start in less than two weeks.

Wednesday night, the McKeesport Area School Board voted down the contract that both the board and McKeesport Area Education Association had agreed to.

Board members said Wednesday night, the money was never there to fund the pay raises in that proposed five-year contract.

“Why did it come to this? We have no idea,” MAEA president Gerald McGrew said.

The proposed pay increases included the following over five years: 2023-24, 6.11%, 2024-25, 6.59%, 2025-26, 6.03%, 2026-27, 4.38%, and 2027-28, 3.26%.

“This contract was offered to us. We accepted this contract. It was not the numbers we wanted, but it’s the numbers that were given to us, and that’s what we went with,” McGrew said.

Board members said they tabled the vote earlier in the summer after finding out the district couldn’t fund the pay raises.

“This board wants to give the teachers the raises, we can’t afford it,” board member Joseph Lopretto said. “Taxpayers will be looking at a 30% raise in their property taxes over five years.”

“I fought to get the increases, but when the information was given to me that we couldn’t financially afford it, I had to change my position,” board member LaToya Wright said.

McGrew stressed teachers aren’t money hungry, they simply want what was offered to them.

“At the end of five years, our highest salary is still not at some of the local district highest salary now,” McGrew said. “The parents and the kids are the ones being affected mostly by this. I feel bad for the school board being put on the spot. I feel bad for the teachers being put on the spot, but again, could this have all been avoided? Yes.”

Teachers officially report to school on Aug. 17, and school starts on Aug. 21.

Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 asked Superintendent Dr. Tia Wanzo if a contract could be agreed upon by then.

“I’m not sure about that, but it’s our goal to get it done as soon as possible. We value our teachers and everything that they bring to our district, and the hard work that they do every day, and this is not the end result any of us wanted, so we want for them to get this resolved as quickly as possible,” Wanzo said.

McGrew said there are no plans to go on strike at this point. Thursday is the first-day teachers can report, voluntarily, to begin setting up their classrooms, and at the end of the day, McGrew said they’ll meet to discuss their next move.

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