WAYNESBORO, Pa —The Waynesboro Area School District’s teachers’ union and school board have reached a contract agreement after less than five months of negotiations.
The new, two-year contract provides an average salary increase of 1.6 percent each year, according to the school board.
Over the weekend, an overwhelming majority of the approximately 275 teachers who belong to the Waynesboro Area Education Association (WAEA) ratified the contract. The school board voted 7-0 Tuesday to accept the same deal.
Both sides will now sign a contract that goes into effect July 1.
“While this settlement keeps the Waynesboro School District’s teacher salary behind in Franklin County, Pa., and surrounding Washington County, Md., schools, WAEA is happy for the settlement so that the focus can be on the educational advancement of our students and schools,” WAEA President Angie Cales said in a written statement.
Negotiations for the previous contract spanned 2 1/2 years and generated accusations, threats of strikes and protests. This time, representatives for the two sides thanked bargaining team members for their civility.
“I think this was a very successful session,” said Chris Lind, school board president.
“No one in the community benefits from unrest in a school district,” Cales said.
The new contract will eliminate the district’s local retirement benefit and use the annual funding of that benefit to fund salary increases. Employees with more than 10 years of service will have their current earnings calculated and held for payment at time of retirement.
The new contract will maintain a work year of 187 days. Teachers will proceed through the “steps” and “columns” on their pay scale as normal, with those classifications based on level of education and years working.
The contract increases the top pay amount. It also eliminates the bottom step, increasing the base salary for new teachers by about $450 to $43,556 in 2013-14.
Under the contract, the district reserves the right to shop for health insurance providers one time. It also changes bereavement leave to include near relatives of the employee and his or her spouse, whereas the previous contract did not include spouses’ near relatives.
Teachers will be assigned a minimum of one preparation period a day of no less than 40 minutes.
Lind said he suspects the community will be pleased by having a new contract in place without the tension associated with the last round of bargaining. WAEA officials said they conducted their vote through electronic ballots and received an “overwhelming majority” in favor of the new deal.