Special education provider in Pa. considering strike

May 25, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The educators who provide special education services in southcentral Pennsylvania are considering a strike and also saying it could come before the end of the school year.

The Lincoln Intermediate Unit Education Association, through its strike team, will provide 48 hours notice to members, other employees, the Lincoln Intermediate Unit administration and public, representatives said.

The union represents about half of the 629 employees who work in 25 school districts in Franklin, Adams and York counties, Association President Holly Musselman said.

"We would (strike at) Franklin Learning Center, the Lincoln Intermediate Unit offices and Yorkshire," Musselman said. "We'll have to see what transpires after the 48-hour notice."


The employees have been without a contract since July 1, 2005, following the expiration of their last five-year contract, Musselman said.

In Franklin County, the LIU provides support services both within the schools and at the Franklin Learning Center, Director of Special Education Warren Risk said. The intermediate unit is funded through federal and state moneys and by the school districts it serves, he said.

The Franklin Learning Center provides testing for young children. It teaches communication and life skills, like dressing and eating, for people up to age 21, Risk said.

"The school districts in Franklin County own it jointly," Risk said, noting the LIU then provides the programs.

Negotiations, which used a fact finder from the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, failed to resolve concerns about salaries and health insurance, Musselman said.

The association wants to see salaries increased closer to the average salary of a teacher in the three-county area, said Musselman, who did not have that figure.

She said the union has accepted that "we know we'll never be at the top."

The average salary of the 629 employees was $46,309, according to the fact-finding report issued last fall. That included teachers, school psychologists and other employees, it said.

The LIU's board of directors, comprised of representatives from 13 school districts, accepted the report, but it was rejected by the association.

The rejection by the association came from contention over a "base option" health insurance plan, according to a news release from Nov. 28, 2005.

"Base option plan is a lesser plan than what we currently have," Musselman said.

In accordance with the LIU's proposal, the fact finder presented three health insurance plans, all of which included employee contribution by the end of the decade.

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