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Riverview teachers, school district approve new 5-year contract

Michael DiVittorio
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The Riverview Education Association and school district officials have put pen to paper and inked a new five-year deal.

School board members voted 8-0 to approved the teachers’ contract Monday night.

School Director Jeanine Hurt-Robinson was absent.

Leaders from both sides signed the paperwork shortly after the board’s vote. The union voted to accept the pact prior to Monday’s meeting.

“Teachers are the most valuable resource we can provide to our students and their leadership is an important part of student learning,” Superintendent Peggy DiNinno said.

The agreement is retroactive to July 1, 2018, and runs through June 30, 2023.

The last contract was a four-year deal that expired at the end of last school year.

“We’re looking forward to working with the kids and providing a high quality education,” union President Mark Capsambelis said. “We’re thankful to the communities for their support throughout the process.”

School board President Maureen McClure echoed Capsambelis’ comments.

“Riverview is a district whose parents want to raise well-rounded children,” she said. “We look forward to working together with both our teachers and our Riverview community, so we can continue to attract families to this unique, small and high quality district with heart.”

But the agreement didn’t come easily.

The union asked the state Labor Relations Board to bring in an independent fact-finder after negotiations stalled in November.

Teachers in October authorized its negotiation team to call a strike, if necessary.

Robert Creo, a Pittsburgh-based mediator and arbitrator, was named the fact-finder. He issued his report Dec. 31. Both parties accepted it within the first week of January.

“The negotiation was a long and difficult process, but the teachers are satisfied with the results and we are happy we can now focus on the work ahead of us,” Capsambelis said.

The two main sticking points in the negotiations were salaries and health care costs.

The union said the five-year deal freezes teacher pay this school year and includes an average raise of 1.5 percent in each of the remaining four years.

District officials said teachers still would move up a step on the pay scale the first year. That means some would receive salary bump of between $1,000 and about $12,000, depending on their step.

Teachers also will pay more for health care as a result of the compromise.

Increases vary per year, with some years remaining stagnant. Those on the individual plan would see their contribution go from $75 per month now to $85 per month by the end of the contract. Others, such as family plans, go from $150 now to $200 per month by the end of the contract.

The agreement also extends 20 days of work by 30 minutes to focus on more professional learning community time, which includes evaluating and collaborating on student initiatives and educational practices. The teachers’ calendar would be reduced by two days as a result of the compromise. The change does not impact students’ schedules.

“The change in the way professional development is delivered will make it more effective than it has been in the past,” Capsambelis said.

DiNinno said that part of the deal coincides with the district’s strategic planning goals, and will be a big boost to student development.

“When teachers have time to collaborate and assess student needs, they are better able to genuinely customize support for our students.”

The union’s 90 members educate about 955 students in the district comprising Oakmont and Verona.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.