Under threat of 1-day strike Tuesday, Dallas board rejects teachers offer

By Michael Reich - [email protected]
Dallas High School. Sean McKeag | Times Leader -

DALLAS — The school board has rejected the latest contract proposal from teachers, according to the district’s lawyer, setting the stage for a one-day strike Tuesday.

Dallas solicitor Vito DeLuca said the school board met in executive session on Friday night after commencement exercises for seniors.

“There’s just absolutely no support at all for even putting it on the agenda,” DeLuca said of the proposed deal that was already approved by the Dallas Education Association.

Mark McDade, the union’s chief negotiator, said previously if the board did not accept the offer, the teachers would strike Tuesday. The last day of school here has been set for June 28, much later than most districts due to a seven-day strike by teachers in September.

“The teachers approved the proposal,” McDade said Thursday. “The framework of the offer is similar to the school board’s previous proposals.”

He said the union’s offer contained a two-year wage freeze and health care contributions. Health care has been a major sticking point in the negotiations. Currently, Dallas teachers pay nothing toward their insurance premiums.

The latest offer, which covered seven years, “would be catastrophic” for the district’s financial health, a press release from DeLuca said.

If the board approved it, he said it would have wiped out the district’s projected $2.5 million fund balance and put Dallas about $350,000 in the red “as soon as we put ink to paper.”

“It’s not even close,” he said Saturday.

“The impact on the district’s budget in the first year represents the equivalent of approximately 33 professional positions and would necessarily result in the reduction of programs and personnel,” the release states.

It goes on to say the fund balance deficit would total $5.5 million by the 2020-21 school year.

And DeLuca said those were conservative estimates that assumed maximum tax increases and did not include other factors.

The union and school board have been at loggerheads for almost three years now.

The last teachers contract expired in August 2015. The board and union started negotiating a new deal in 2014.

Since then, there have been two strikes — the first in the fall of 2016 — and multiple strike dates that have been set but then pushed back.

According to state law, teacher unions can strike twice in a school year as long as the first strike ends in time to complete 180 school days by June 15. A second strike must end in time to complete 180 days by June 30.

Dallas High School. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_TTL03xx18DallasHighSchool-1.jpgDallas High School. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

By Michael Reich

[email protected]