By Denise Dick
A federal mediator has been involved with contract talks between the city school district and the union representing its teachers.
The Youngs- town Education Association, the roughly 400-member teachers union, this week voted to authorize its negotiating team to issue a 10-day notice of intent to strike if necessary.
But negotiations continue, including a session Wednesday.
“I’m optimistic that we’ll work it out,” said Superintendent Connie Hathorn.
The previous teachers’ contract expired June 30.
Beginning teachers earn $29,885 while senior teachers, or those with 24 years of service and a doctorate, earn about $66,000 annually. The average teacher salary is $53,355.
The last three-year contract provided 1 percent pay increases each year. That followed four years of freezes on base pay.
For health insurance, teachers pay 1.225 percent of their salary for family or 0.65 percent of their salary for single coverage.
Tim Kinkead, a YEA spokesman, said the stumbling blocks to a new contract are economic issues including salary and health insurance.
Karen Green, assistant superintendent for human resources, said both sides would set up a schedule for talks. She said the federal mediator has been involved for at least two sessions.
With the Youngstown City School Academic Distress Commission in place, there are few issues to negotiate. Late last year, the academic distress commission, which already oversaw district academics, took over budget authority for the city schools because of a projected $1.5 million deficit.