Four-year con­tract OK’d

School board, teach­ers union reach deal; teach­ers to re­ceive av­er­age yearly 4 per­cent in­crease

The Phoenix - - FRONT PAGE - By EricDev­linede­vlin@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Eric_Devlin on Twit­ter

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.

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