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A+ Schools and community partners move forward on plan to address teacher’s strike

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On Monday, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT) membership authorized its executive board to call for a strike. A+ Schools hopes that continued negotiations can lead to a satisfactory outcome and children can continue to learn. However, in the event of a strike, we, along with multiple community partners, are actively engaged in developing a strike plan to help our families and students find safe, enriching places to go during the day in the event schools are closed.

“While the union and district hammer out contract negotiations, one thing seems to be missing from the discussion – how do we ensure that over 24,000 students will receive the care, attention and education they deserve if a strike should occur?” said James Fogarty, A+ Schools Executive Director. “We can’t leave kids out of the equation. We continue to hope that both sides will create more comprehensive plans to staff high-needs schools where teacher turnover and resignations are high so that teachers and students can be successful.”

A+ Schools encourages families to continue to reach out if they need childcare, and volunteers and organizations to sign up if they can provide help. Two web forms were created to collect this information:

Parents/caregivers that need childcare click here or go to http://bit.ly/NeedChildcare.

Volunteers with clearances and organizations that can help provide care click here or go to http://bit.ly/GiveChildcare.

While the lists continue to grow, several organizations have already committed to care for Pittsburgh’s schoolchildren. Among them are:

  • Voices Against Violence in Beltzhoover, several YMCA locations and the Boys and Girls Clubs in Shadyside and Lawrenceville have said they are ready to serve children in the event schools are closed.
  • The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is building reserves through its Backpack Initiative to feed students.
  • Youth Places, Inc. is looking to expand its programming to full day during the strike.

A+ Schools will continue to collect information about organizations and caregivers large and small who are willing to help provide care for working families in the event of a strike. We also recognize the support from these community organizations will not meet all of the needs of all students who will be affected by a strike. A+ Schools stresses the importance of the need for all families to develop emergency plans to address essentials throughout the school day.

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to reach out to service providers, insurance companies and programs that may be able to assist their families.

The message we want all parents and caregivers to hear is that you need to start planning in case a strike occurs. We have heard from some providers, particularly those who work with children with disabilities, that families must contact their insurance providers to enable access to certain programs and facilities,” Fogarty said. “We don’t want families to be caught off guard.”

The PFT executive board meets tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the strike authorization vote. The PFT and the school district have a negotiations session scheduled for Friday. The authorization vote does not necessarily mean a strike will occur. If the union chooses to strike, it would have to give 48 hours of notice before striking.