Two weeks ago, Dr. Nancy Hines the Acting Superintendent of Schools, requested a meeting with the Presidents of the three Unions in the Penn Hills School District. The Presidents represent the maintenance workers, secretaries, and teachers. Dr. Hines asked us to consider taking a wage freeze for next school year. As President of the Penn Hills Education Association (PHEA), I was obligated to discuss the offer with the members of the PHEA. Several years ago, Penn Hills teachers were forced to work under a wage freeze prior to settling the 2009-2014 contract. The 2008-2009 school year was one in which Penn Hills teachers lost wages, wages toward retirement, and the school year in total. That means that teachers who have been in the District for 15 years, are on step 14. All of us who endured the forced wage freeze are one year behind where we should be. A wage freeze is damaging to not only our bank accounts, but to our families as well. Teachers in the Penn Hills School District work tirelessly and many times burn the candle at both ends. PHEA negotiated a fair and equitable contract with modest increases per year. Unfortunately, with the District being $30 million dollars in debt, if that’s accurate, I couldn’t ask the teachers to accept a wage freeze when it would only save the District approximately $990,000. To ask the teachers to accept a wage freeze and then making them 2 years/steps behind of where they should be is detestable. As President of PHEA, I simply could not ask the membership to accept a wage freeze and given said facts above, the teachers in the Penn Hills School District were not willing to accept a pay freeze either.
A Bill currently under consideration by the State Government Committee would require local government agencies to record secret meetings commonly referred to as executive sessions. Representative Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth recently testified before the committee. "The bill is about "the public right to know how we arrive at their decisions," Saccone said. Committee chairman Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry said he will ask for a committee vote but was unsure as to when that would occur.
Despite the fact that fines for violations have increased, few have been levied. Audio recordings of executive sessions would be used only to prove or disprove the legality of the secret meeting. Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association said, "The value of an audio or video recording of an executive session is irrefutable evidence of what transpired. A judge could review the recording to determine if a violation occurred."
Municipalities and School Boards have disapproved stating the requirement would impose a significant unfunded mandate on local government boards.
If you have a news story you would like us to share on pennhillsteachers.org, please submit using the "Submit Stories" button below.
News articles are written by members of the PHEA communication committee and approved by members of the PHEA Executive Board.