Talks between teachers, school district start again

November 25, 1996


Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Contract talks between the Chambersburg Area School District and its teachers are on again after a brief, but tense, standoff.

The two sides have agreed to meet with a Pennsylvania Board of Labor Relations mediator in early December. An exact date and time has not been set.

"As far as I know, there's a positive attitude to settle between the parties," said School Board President D. Eugene Gayman.


But that wasn't the case a few weeks ago, after the school board rejected a Labor Relations Board fact-finding report.

Kris Scritchfield, president of the Chambersburg Area Teachers Association, stopped short of threatening to strike.

The district's 428 teachers, whose contract expired June 30, do have that option, although it hasn't been exercised since 1980.

However, teachers won't take any action before meeting with the board, she said.

So far, the major sticking point over 10 months of negotiations has been salaries.

The school board's last offer was a 10.10 percent pay increase over four years.

Teachers have proposed 14 percent over three years.

The fact-finding report recommended increases of 12.47 percent over four years.

The teachers agreed to that, but the school board did not.

Gayman said that pay hike would likely raise the need for a tax increase.

Teachers say they're only asking for raises comparable to those received by teachers in the county and similar districts across the state.

They argue that Chambersburg school district taxpayers have a lower tax burden than many other school districts in the state, the report says.

The school district contends that tax revenue is declining and money needs to be spent to replace old and overcrowded schools.

Other issues the two sides don't agree on, according to the fact-finding report:

  • The length of the contract. The district wants a four-year contract but teachers want a three-year contract. The report recommends four years.
  • Health care. The district wants to increase the co-pay for family coverage from 5 percent to 25 percent and increase the deductible in major medical to $500 per individual and $1,500 per family.

    Teachers don't want to change the health-care coverage, although they are willing to look at other insurance providers.

The report recommended raising the deductible from $100 to $200 for individual and from $300 to $600 for families.

  • Tuition for college credits. The district questions whether the courses help teachers do a better job and wants to put a $5,000 cap on tuition per teacher.

Teachers maintain the courses are worthwhile.

The report recommends continuing tuition payments while requiring teachers to notify the school board about how many credits they'll be taking so the schools can better budget.

It isn't unusual for contract talks to drag on this long, Gayman and Scritchfield said. Meanwhile, the business of education continues.

"We're doing what we have to do. We're professionals," Scritchfield said.

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