PDE Sets Nov. 3 Deadline for Redbank Teacher’s Strike

1M9A8846 copyNEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT) – The Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a memo today to the Redbank School District and the Redbank teacher’s union giving November 3 as the last possible day the teacher’s strike can last.

(Photo by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography)

Redbank Valley Education Association has been without a contract for two and a half years, and with negotiations at a critical moment, the union believed it was time for action.

The 77 teachers of the RVEA went on strike on Monday, September 13, in an attempt to force the district to meet them at the negotiating table and compromise with their demands.

“We’ve done a lot of concessions,” Patrick Andrekovich, a union representative told exploreClarion.com. “All we’re asking the district to meet us at least part of the way. They aren’t even willing to do that.”

Dr. Chad Shaffer, Redbank School Board member and lead negotiator for the district, told exploreClarion.com, “Both sides wish (the strike) could have been avoided.

“Both sides are frustrated we can’t reach an agreement.”

School districts must provide 180 days of instruction to their students. When the strike began, it was unknown what date the PDE would give the union as a cutoff.

Now, the strike could potentially last until early November.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education issued the following memo on Redbank Valley School District Critical Dates:

The Pennsylvania Department of Education calculates a “critical date” for subsidy purposes and to determine when the Secretary may initiate injunctive proceedings against a school district and its teachers’ union because a strike threatens the provision of 180 days of instruction. To determine this “critical date” the Department makes the following calculations:

1. Count total instructional days completed. Act 80 days are not instructional days, but are exceptions to instructional days, and therefore, are not counted in the calculation of total instructional days completed.

2. Counting back from June 30, count every available instructional day. By statute, the following days are not available as instructional days: Saturdays; Sundays; Memorial Day; the Fourth of July; Thanksgiving; Christmas; the First of January; and, if specifically approved by resolution of the Board of Directors prior to the beginning of the school year, up to five additional days specifically designated as official local school district holidays.

Information provided by the Redbank Valley School District shows that prior to the strike on September 13, 2021, the school district provided eleven (11) days of instruction. Based on this information, it is the Department’s opinion that if the strike goes beyond November 3, 2021, the district will be unable to complete 180 days of instruction by June 30, 2021. Section 1161-A of the Public School Code authorizes the Secretary to initiate injunctive proceedings when the school district is unable to complete 180 days of instruction by June 30.

Using the same method of calculation, it is the Department’s opinion that if the strike goes beyond October 19, 2021, the district will be unable to complete 180 days of instruction by June 15, 2021. Section 1125-A of the Public School Code provides that if a strike or lockout will prevent the school district from providing 180 days of instruction by the later of June 15 or the last day of the school district’s scheduled school year, the parties shall submit to mandated final best-offer arbitration. The Department is providing this calculation of the June 15 “critical date” as a courtesy merely to assist the parties in complying with Act 88.


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