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Waynesboro teachers sign four-year contract

December 22, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - It took the better part of a year to negotiate, but teachers and school board members in Waynesboro agreed on a new contract that will raise teachers' salaries by 12 percent over the next four years.

The board members agreed to the new contract Monday night by a unanimous vote of the six members present. Three members were absent.

It's the first four-year contract for the teachers, said Michael Engle, a high school biology teacher and outgoing president of the Waynesboro Area Education Association. The association represents 273 teachers in the system.

Negotiations on the new contract began in January. By May both sides had asked the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to send a mediator into the talks.

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Engle and Lawrence M. Glenn, a member of the board's negotiating committee, said the two sides have met at least 15 times since January trying to work out an agreement. Officials earlier had said that salary and language were sticking points in the talks.

"We're happy it's over," Engle said. "I feel the new contract is mutually beneficial to both parties. There was give and take by both sides."

According to Robert Mesaros, schools superintendent, the teachers will get a 2.9 percent raise for each of the first two years of the contract and 3.1 percent each of the last two years. The first raise is retroactive to July 1, 1998, the date the teachers' last contract expired, Mesaros said.

The new contract runs from that date to June 30, 2002, he said.

According to Engle, a starting teacher made slightly more than $29,000 under provisions of the old contract. That jumps to $29,446 in the new agreement.

Pam Mowry, incoming association president, said she found sitting through the long months of negotiations interesting though frustrating at times.

"On the whole it worked well," she said. "Both sides made a conscientious effort to be civil and objective."

Teachers in Waynesboro went on a four-day strike over a contract dispute in 1992. Negotiations on the contract that followed were smoother than the recent talks; an agreement was reached in three months.

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