By JENNIFER FITCH
5:44 PM EST, December 30, 2012
The new year will find the Waynesboro Area School Board and the district’s teachers union in a familiar position as they return to the bargaining table to hammer out a teacher contract.
Last summer, the two sides ratified a contract that spent 2 1/2 years in development. Because that contract covered 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13, the bargaining teams now are headed back to work on a new deal.
Negotiations officially start in January.
The union, Waynesboro Area Education Association (WAEA), hopes this round of bargaining can be settled before hitting 800 days without a contract, WAEA President Angie Cales said.
“There are fewer issues on the table as we have just closed this past contract in the summer,” she wrote in an email.
WAEA’s negotiations committee has about 15 members. From them, the team that will go to the table is comprised of Cales, Cori Urey, Heather Gaylor, Mike Engle and Caroline Tassone.
Representing the nine-member school board in this round of negotiations will be Rita Daywalt, Chris Lind and Lee Lemley.
Daywalt said both sides have “a very cordial and cooperative relationship.”
“We’re looking forward to working together with the association to create a contract that meets the needs of the students, the staff and the community,” she wrote in an email.
The union will approach each session with a “positive and respectful attitude,” Cales said.
“The new WAEA leadership is steadfastly optimistic about coming to an agreement,” she said.
In recent years, the contract dispute generated accusations, protests, tense moments and a hefty amount of public opinion. The finalized deal included pay increases of 2.25 percent for the 2012-13 year.
The down economy played a key role in most conversations when the last contract was being settled.
“Although the market has not improved, it appears to have stabilized. ... The board has made adjustments to the district’s staffing, programming and spending while maintaining the highest standards of education,” Daywalt said, saying she has seen no indication that state or federal funding will increase.
“We believe that economic conditions are suitable for achieving a settlement that is comparable to the other districts in the county,” Cales said.
One issue — the years covered in a new contract — might be resolved early and easily. WAEA is eyeing a three-year contract, and the school board is looking for a two- or three-year contract.
Daywalt said the last round of bargaining taught her to evaluate the academic needs of the district and community over the time that they are negotiating. She said involved parties need to then evaluate the financial health of the district and the community’s ability to fund the contract.
“After a thorough analysis, you determine what the district can afford and you make the very best offer you can make,” Daywalt said.
You need to be able to support your position with the facts and defend your position, she said.
“It takes two sides willing to compromise to come to a settlement. Both sides must be willing to give a little,” Cales said of lessons from the last round.
“We are hoping to move forward in coming to an agreement that is fair for both sides,” she said.
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