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Pittsburgh Public Schools thwarts teacher strike; schools will not close Friday | TribLIVE.com
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Pittsburgh Public Schools thwarts teacher strike; schools will not close Friday

Natasha Lindstrom
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Tribune-Review
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Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet
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Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Newly hired Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet holds a news conference at the Pittsburgh Public Schools Administration offices in Oakland on Tuesday, June 7, 2016.

UPDATE: Pittsburgh Public Schools has averted a teachers’ strike.

District officials and union negotiators reached a settlement shortly after 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, said Nina Esposito-Visgitis, president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.

“After 14 hours’ straight of negotiating, I think it still hasn’t hit me to be honest,” Esposito-Visgitis said by phone early Wednesday.

“It’s been a long and arduous 19 months, I’ve got to tell you,” she continued. “But I’m happy that we were able to do this for our educators and our parents and our students.”

She would not provide details on the final contracts, pending review by the union’s executive board.

“We were able to settle on all of the outstanding issues,” Esposito-Visgitis said.

No further information was immediately available.

Stay tuned to TribLIVE.com for more details on Wednesday.

Posted earlier on TribLIVE:

The threat of a strike that could shut down Pittsburgh Public Schools continued to loom as negotiations between district officials and union representatives dragged on late Tuesday.

Pittsburgh teachers could go on strike as soon as Friday.

Shortly before 11 p.m. Tuesday, Ira Weiss, the school district’s solicitor, told the Tribune-Review that he and other negotiators remained engaged in talks that had begun at 9:30 a.m.

The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers gave the district notice Monday that unless a deal is struck, the union intends to strike at the end of the week, following more than a year and a half of stalled contract negotiations.

Each side reiterated that it was working to prevent a strike that could affect more than 24,000 students, but differed on what it would take to strike a deal.

Neither provided further clarity or details late Tuesday.

Nina Esposito-Visgitis, union president, has said that the union and district have signed several tentative agreements on contract terms during more than 18 months of negotiations.

But none of the agreements dealt with salary, health care benefits, equity for early childhood teachers, transfers, athletic coaches or other items outlined in a fact-finder’s report released last October.

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet argued in a statement Monday that the only remaining sticking point was giving principals authority to assign teacher schedules.

District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said she had nothing new to report Tuesday.

She said if a strike happens, all 54 schools will close Friday. Parents and guardians will be notified via the usual form of alerts for closures, including robocalls, text messages and notifications posted to the district’s website .

“We’ll be keeping families informed through the ways we usually would for school closures as soon as we can,” Pugh said. “We definitely understand the issues that a strike would pose for families.”

The Partnership for A+ Schools is collaborating with the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and local child care providers to accommodate the needs of working parents who would need assistance under a strike. United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline will be a resource for child care options and activities.

The union represents about 3,000 teachers, paraprofessionals and technical-clerical employees.

One-year interim agreements for all three groups of employees expired June 30. They have been working without a contract since then.

The district includes 54 schools and about 25,000 students.

City teachers last went on strike from December 1975 to January 1976.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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