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Article published February 27, 2013
Mars wrong on pact
Peter Black, Pittsburgh Science teacher Mars Senior High School
I am writing in response to the Feb. 21 article “Mars’ support personnel union votes on new deal.” As a teacher who relies on these support personnel to help me do my job effectively, I am troubled at the miscalculation the district continues to make regarding the value of these human resources. In spite of overwhelming community support for maintaining our educational community, I was shocked to read that Tom Breth, the district’s negotiator, still appears to be promoting the hiring of outside contractors. This reveals, from a teacher’s perspective, such a fundamental misunderstanding of what makes Mars School District tick, that I find it hard to believe this is anything more than a scare tactic. Even more troubling is the fact that board president Dayle Ferguson and business manager Jill Swaney also go on record as supporting this simplistic approach to their supposed budget troubles. We only hear about the theoretical financial savings, without any research into the effect outsourcing has had on other school districts that pursued this approach. Support personnel work directly with students as learning aides and life-skill assistants. Some have decades of training. To make that kind of investment in human resources and then toss it aside is hard for me to understand as a person directly involved in the education of our youth.