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NEW BETHLEHEM – With a teachers strike looming on Monday, Sept. 13, the Redbank Valley School District and the Redbank Valley Education Association met last night (Wednesday) for negotiations.

Both sides issued statements this morning about the meeting, making it appear more likely that the labor strike will take place beginning on Monday.

The following statements were issued:

REDBANK VALLEY EDUCATION ASSOCIATION STATEMENT:

"Both groups met to negotiate with the Board on the evening of Wednesday, September 8. The RVEA and RVESP met with the Board in multiple sidebar discussions. Less than a week before a strike, the board came to the meeting with no proposal. In discussion, the Board requested for the RVEA to find another $140,000 savings in addition to the concessions that the RVEA has already offered. Unfortunately, a settlement was not reached.

"There are no meetings scheduled at this time. The RVEA notified the Board that we are willing to meet again to negotiate between now and Monday. The Board informed us that they will be available to meet the last week of September.

"The strike is scheduled to begin Monday, September 13, 2021."

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REDBANK VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT STATEMENT:

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From Chad Shaffer, Negotiations Committee Chairman:

"The school district’s negotiations committee met with the teachers’ negotiations committee last night. We informed them that the District was unwilling to accept their last offer but was willing to advance its last five year contract proposal by another $100,000 in additional money to settle the two contracts. This was done as a way to seek a middle ground compromise and keep increases in expenses matched with increases in tax revenue. We offered to work together during the session to find a way to structure a salary increase and benefit plan that would meet this new total expense increase. We committed to then incorporate this mutually produced plan into a new formal offer for this month. Unfortunately, they were unwilling to do so. The District will consequently put together a formal offer on its own which will meets its budgetary limits and will present this offer later this month.

"In addition, we met with the support staff negotiations committee and suggested a compromise on copays. They did not agree. Nonetheless, we plan to make a formal offer to this group this month as well."

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STATEMENT FROM PATRICK ANDREKOVICH, REPRESENTING THE TEACHERS WITH THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION:

"We met with the Board last night and they came with nothing, again. They did not bring a proposal or response to the most recent offers from RVEA and RVESP. Instead, Dr. Shaffer told us we needed to find an additional $140,000 in concessions (more Co-Pays) or there was no need to continue to meet. The additional $140,000 request would be in addition to the 2-year salary scale freezes, reduction in (HSA) contributions, dental insurance changes, and the implementation of Co-Pays RVEA has already proposed to save the District over $1.2 million dollars. Dr. Shaffer also told us that they will not agree to language being proposed to force the Board and the Association to work together to find an alternative health care provider to help contain health care costs moving forward.

"Jason Barnett, Board Team Member, did tell us they may be willing to spend some of the current $3.8 million dollar fund balance, the $1.2 million dollar surplus from 2020-21 school year, or use some of the $3.4 million dollars in stimulus funds they will receive. He did not give a specific amount of that $8 million dollars they are willing to use.

"RVEA is available to meet at any time, but the Board told us they are not available until the last week of September."

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