Regional Districts Cold to Pay Freeze Proposal

As part of his budget address the Governor put forth the idea of a pay freeze for public school employees, noting that "…a statewide freeze of teacher pay could save districts about $400 million". Soon after the head of the state’s largest teachers’ union encouraged his members to enter into talks with school boards over a pay freeze.

So has the idea gained traction since then? The Pennsylvania Association of School Boards (PSBA) has collected a list of schools that have communicated to the association that they adopted a wage freeze for the upcoming fiscal year. Five districts have adopted what could be termed a district wide freeze: that is, administrators, staff, and teachers have taken a wage freeze. Three districts have a wage freeze that does not affect staff; five have a freeze that does not involve teachers; the largest group, involving 25 districts, have adopted a pay freeze for administrators only.

The idea has been slow coming in southwestern Pennsylvania: only two districts (Belle Vernon and Seneca Valley) out of the 38 total have adopted a pay freeze. Neither one involves teachers in the freeze.

About one-fourth of the districts in Allegheny County have teacher contracts that are set to expire this year. The largest district, Pittsburgh, just negotiated a five-year contract in 2010 and has no intention of reopening it at this time. The County still has the distinction of being the only one in the state that have had teacher strikes this year and the contracts in those districts (Allegheny Valley, Bethel Park, and Moon Area) are not yet resolved.