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School group ratifies contract

February 12, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A contract approved last week by the Lincoln Intermediate Unit board of directors put an end to two years of negotiations between the board and the special-education teachers and therapists it employs in Franklin, Adams and York counties.

The board is "really pleased that the negotiations have resulted in a ratified contract," its lawyer Kim Smith said.

The same contract, which provides 5.5 percent salary increases annually, was presented to the education association last fall and voted down. The education association - representing 629 workers, including those at Chambersburg's Franklin Learning Center - approved the contract Jan. 31.

"Our members had asked us to look at (the board's) budget and their fund balance," association president Holly Musselman said.

The fund balance had decreased from $2.3 million in 1999 to about $738,000, she said.

"The research has shown they spent the money on capital improvements. I don't think the membership was happy in how the money was spent," she said.

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With a margin of seven votes, the education association approved the contract and abandoned its quest for retroactive pay for 2005-06, Musselman said.

The average salary of the teachers, school psychologists and other employees was $46,309 in 2004-05, according to the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board fact-finding report issued in the fall of 2005.

The newly ratified contract expires in 2010. The employees had been without a contract since July 1, 2005.

Smith said the board is looking to move forward, but Musselman said that "it is going to take us time to move forward."

"The trust is definitely not there," Musselman said.

She said that for starting salaries in 2006-07, the LIU ranked 20th out of 21 for unions with existing contracts in its service area.

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