Football team dishonors teachers union strike

Reynolds (PA) teachers plan to strike through Nov. 2, which is as long as the law allows them, but students want to get back to class.

“I think it sucks because I just want to get my senior year over,” said Shane Reagle, 17. Shane and several of his friends were spending their free time Thursday heading to Hermitage for a pizza and maybe hanging out at Shenango Valley Mall.

[Photo caption: Reynolds’ football team practiced Thursday for the Saturday game, which will be coached by the elementary school principal, who’s filling in for coach Tim Scarvel. Scarvel is part of the teachers union that is on strike, and he decided not to cross the picket line.]

While Shane wants to return to school as soon as possible, he said he understands the reasons why the teachers union went on strike. “They haven’t had a contract for two years. The school board needs to do something,” he said.

The board has a work session scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday and Shane said he’ll go if he doesn’t have to work and maybe speak to the directors about settling a contract with the teachers. “I’d tell them to hurry up,” Shane said. Senior Josh Unrue, 17, and junior Josh Hassel, 16, said they don’t want to make up a lot of strike days by going to school on scheduled vacation days. “It’s kind of taking away from summer,” Josh Hassel said.

The last day of school is scheduled for June 6. Teachers can strike through Nov. 2 in order to get 180 days of classes completed by June 15, according to a news release Thursday from the state Department of Education.

Reynolds Education Association plans to continue the strike as long as it’s allowed to do so if there’s no movement or tentative agreement with the board on a new contract, said Marcus D. Schlegel, a Pennsylvania State Education Association representative who is advising the union.

The union is required by law to return to work after Nov. 2, after which the board and union will be obligated to enter into non-binding arbitration and an arbiter will try to help settle a new contract, Schlegel said.

The union is allowed to go on strike a second time during the school year long enough for 180 days of classes to be completed by June 30, the Department of Education said. State law says 180 days of classes must be completed by then.

Days of classes missed during the strike can be held on vacation days and all holidays except Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Classes can’t be held on Saturdays or Sundays, the department said.

Josh Hassel said the teachers are striking for good reasons like salary increases and he’s sure they want to return to school as much as he and his classmates do. “They have families to support,” he said.

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