Four-year contract OK’d
School board, teachers union reach deal; teachers to receive average yearly 4 percent increase
ROYERSFORD » The Spring-Ford Area School Board and SPRINGFORD Education Association teachers union agreed to a new fouryear contract that includes an average salary and benefits increase of 4 percent a year over the next four years, according to the district.
The school board approved the contract by an 8-0 vote Monday night. The contract makes up approximately 68 percent of the district’s $157 million annual budget, or approximately $106 million, Chief Financial Officer James Fink said.
The average yearly 4 percent increase includes salary, health care and retirement benefits. By the end of the four-year agreement, only one health care plan option will be available, helping to control the overall district health care costs.
The new contract will have no impact on the district’s budget this year, said Fink. The district made some assumptions about how much it would have to spend on a new contract when creating a budget for this year and “(we) were right onwith the assumptions that we made.”
In fact, the contract falls right in line with the district’s five-year financial forecast that shows growing revenue in the districtwill help
“I think (negotiations) took a long time and it was a lot of work on both sides, butwe reacheda fair contract that takes into account the burden on tax payers.” — Zach Laurie, president of the Spring-Ford Education Association teachers union
offset some of the costs associated with this new contract. Given the many moving parts to a budget, however, Fink said he was unable to say what kind of impact the new contract would have on futures taxes.
Both sides of the table praised the new deal.
School board President Joe Ciresi thanked both teams involved in the collective bargaining process.
“We’re pleased at the progress we made with the association,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to moving Spring-Ford forward over the next four years, as we work towards our goal of becoming theno. 1 school district in the state. This is a great way to start a new school year.”
Unofficial talks between
the two sides began last October. Then negotiations began to heat up over the summer, especially as the previous contract was set to expire Aug. 20. Meanwhile, hundreds of teachers union members attended the last several board meetings wearing the same blue union T-shirts in solidarity. The rank-and-file membership authorized its leadership to go on strike if negotiations failed. The authorization did not guarantee a strike would happen, but allowed the union’s leadership to make that decision if it thought the action was needed.
“I think (negotiations) took a long time and it was a lot of work on both sides, but we reached a fair contract that takes into account the burden on tax payers,” said Zach Laurie, president of the teachers union. “Even with what we agreed on there is no need for a tax
increase, which is fantastic. It’s also fair toward teachers and members of the association in recognizing their hard work and what they do every day.”
Laurie too thanked both negotiating teams for their efforts.
“We finally get to move forward with what matters: the kids and moving Springford forward,” he said.
“I would like to thank all those involved in the negotiation process, in particular, the negotiating committees from both the school board and the (teachers union),” Superintendent David Goodin said in a statement. “Thanks to their desire to work together, the groups were able to come to agreement before the start of the 2017-2018 school year.”
Goodin and Assistant Superintendent Allyn Roche announced in June they would not accept a pay raise until the teachers con-----
tract was settled. Goodin earns an annual salary of $188,700, while Roche earns $163,200 a year, currently. Their contracts expire June 30, 2019. Both contracts schedule a raise that’s based on board reviewed evaluations.
Goodin received a $3,500 raise for the 2014-15 school year after a positive evaluation. There was not a salary motion for 2015-16 school year as their contracts were renewed at the Oct. 27, 2014, meeting, and their salaries, which took effect July 1, 2015, were set in their new contracts, according to the district.
Prior to Fink’s presentation, board Vice President Tom DIBELLO criticized the board and district for not keeping the general public informed on the latest details of the contract or the status of the negotiations.
“I’m in complete support of the initiative and I’m in
complete support of the teachers and their involvement in the collective bargaining,” he said Monday. “The only issue that we have is that we neglected to continually inform the community as far as where we’re at, what’s going on, what the overall impacts are going to be with this approval this evening.”
DIBELLO referenced the March town hall meeting regarding the possible $12million expansion of the high school where it was stated that there would be no need for any tax increase in order to complete the project. Given the lack of information released to the public regarding the teacher contract over the last few months, “one would be led to believe that if there is any type of tax change moving forward, it’s going tobe coupled with both the expansion of the high school, as well as the agreement that
we’re looking at this evening,” he said.
“I really feel that we missedthe target on informing the community,” DIBELLO continued. “It’s the community’s right to know what we’re agreeing to, it makes up two-thirds of our budget.”
Ciresi later clarified that what limited information about the contract negotiation the board could provide before an agreement was reached was under the advice of its solicitor who was negotiating on its behalf. Likewise, Laurie said keeping negotiations confidential between just the teammembers on either side of the bargaining table prevents news from leaking that could potentially derail negotiations. He also agreed with the decision to release information at Monday’s meeting to allow for a general understanding of the contract’s details.