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Pa. Teacher Strike Continues for 20th School Day as Contract Negotiations Stall

It has been a month since teachers in the Dallas School District in Pennsylvania went on strike, but district officials and the teachers' union have yet to reach an agreement.

Teachers from the Dallas Education Association have been striking since Nov. 14 over contract negotiations, reports The Citizens' Voice. The district has canceled 20 days of school because of the strike so far. 

In Pennsylvania, teachers are allowed to strike two times a year, but the first strike must end as soon as it prevents a district from providing 180 days of instruction before June 15 or the last day of the scheduled school year, whichever comes first. The district's scheduled last day is June 6. 

This means that teachers were expected to be back in the classroom by Tuesday. But last week, district officials informed parents that make-up days will not be scheduled during the winter holiday break, and instead, the school year will likely be extended to June 26. Union officials said that announcement extended the district calendar, allowing the strike to continue on for six or seven school days.

Now, the state Department of Education might have to seek a court injunction to end the strike by Dec. 28 (which is during the district's scheduled holiday break). If that happens, officials told the Citizens' Voice that the district still might not be able to provide 180 days of instruction by June 30, considering snow days, and might have to request a waiver from the state. 

On Tuesday, negotiators for the union and the district bargained for three hours. The district agreed to provide $500,000 in retroactive pay increases for the 2015-16 school year and $500,000 for this school year, the Citizens' Voice reported.  

Teachers have not had a pay increase since August 2015, when their last collective bargaining agreement expired, according to the Citizens' Voice. 

But negotiations ended for the day due to a dispute over health care. The district wanted union members to pay 4 percent of the premium cost for health benefits for two years—between $28 and $62 a month, depending on the plan—but the union rejected that demand, the paper reported.

On Monday, about 700 people came to a contentious meeting of the school board. 

Related: Understanding Teachers' Strikes: Where They Happen and How Often

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