By JENNIFER FITCH
10:53 PM EDT, June 12, 2012
The Waynesboro Area School Board aired publicly the issues keeping the board and the district’s teachers union from settling a contract.
The school board ended its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night with the contract debate that has loomed over the district for two and a half years. It reiterated points made to the media after Monday’s negotiating session.
Negotiators for the school board claim the two sides would have reached a tentative agreement if the teachers union, the Waynesboro Area Education Association, had not brought up an existing grievance.
That grievance concerns teachers advancing in columns on the pay scale for furthering their own education and working on advanced degrees. The school board refuses to provide increased pay for those teachers for 2010-11 and 2011-12, the two years the district has been without a contract.
The union says the matter is headed toward arbitration and the teachers are due the money.
“We think the board violated the contract. Status quo (for the past two years) means they have to follow the (existing) rules,” Union President Mike Engle said after the meeting.
The school board says 30 of about 275 teachers are affected; the union says 44 teachers are affected.
School board members said an agreement needs to be reached by Friday to make changes to the district’s health insurance offerings for 2012-13. The school board wants to tie any salary increases to changes in benefits.
If the changes are not made by Friday, the school board says pay increases for 2012-13 could be lost, as they were for the previous two years.
“I think that’s an amazing show of solidarity that they’d all be willing to risk increases,” board member Rita Daywalt said.
A negotiating session is scheduled for Thursday morning.
Board member Chris Lind said the district could be responsible for $152,000 in payments if it lost the grievance.
The school board’s labor attorney, Richard Galtman, said in a phone interview Monday the board believed the grievance would be dropped after negotiations yielded a contract.
“We said no retroactivity (in pay). That’s simply a way to get around contract negotiations, a way to get back-door retroactivity,” board member Leland Lemley said.
“We do not consider this retroactivity. Column movement has always been something in addition,” Engle said.
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