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School administrators in Montana town go on strike over contract, schools closed
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) ' Public school administrators in Butte went on strike after they failed to reach a contract, forcing the cancellation of classes and extracurricular activities Wednesday in the town of 34,000 people.
The school district and union are at odds over salary issues for the 15 administrators in Butte. Teachers are represented by the same union, and they honored the strike.
"The district trustees are disappointed that the union made this choice," the board of trustees said in a statement. "But, given the underfunding dilemma faced by the district, the school board strongly believes the offer made to the administrators is fair and reasonable and is also responsible to our community and its taxpayers, now and in the future."
The principals, assistant principals and directors voted last week to strike at 6 p.m. Tuesday if they did not have a contract. Administrators were seeking the same percentage raise that non-union administrators are set to receive.
"It's a question of parity," said Bill Rowe, representative for Teamsters' Union Local 2. He said the teachers would not cross picket lines.
The school district offered a 2 percent raise on administrators' base salary in addition to their guaranteed raises for experience, which would amount to at least a 4.4 percent annual raise.
The union countered last Friday with a proposal to accept a 1 percent raise for this year while maintaining their request for the 4 percent raise based on experience.
Trustees said non-union administrators, including the superintendent, are in line for a 6 percent increase once the administrators reach a contract.
Neither side had plans to bring a counter-offer to the table.
"We gave our last and final (offer) and they gave their last and final (offer)," Rowe said. "Nothing else is scheduled at present.
The strike cancelled classes at six elementary schools, a middle school and the high school.
The Montana Standard (http://bit.ly/cOj23t ) reports trustees called an emergency meeting Wednesday evening to discuss the strike and the logistics of running a district that has been shut down. Meanwhile, no communication between the striking administrators and the district means schools will be closed for a second straight day Thursday.