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Tuscarora BOE votes to approve tentative deal with teachers

September 23, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- While the Pennsylvania State Education Association took the night to tally union votes for a tentative agreement between teachers and the Tuscarora School Board, the board voted 7-1 Monday evening to approve the agreement and move toward ratifying a four-year contract for the 180 unionized teachers.

The law requires a majority vote by the school board and a two-thirds vote by members of the Tuscarora Education Association for the agreement to be ratified as a contract.

Board member Larry Funk voted against approving the contract and new board member Kenneth Nolen abstained.

The board has been negotiating with members of the Tuscarora Education Association bargaining team since January to reach an agreement. The teachers delayed school by a week earlier this month by going on strike to protest the lack of a contract.

Both sides said sticking points were salary increases and contributions to medical insurance premiums.

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Union Spokeswoman Marcia Bender said teachers voted on the tentative agreement after school, and by 4:30 p.m. not all votes were cast.

"This agreement is the result of give and take on both sides," Bender said.

More than six hours of negotiations Sept. 7 yielded the tentative faculty contract, putting an end to the strike that delayed the start of classes by five school days.

Students were expected to start school Sept. 2, along with the other public schools in Franklin County (Pa.), but teachers took to the picket lines because they had not gotten a contract out of almost a year of negotiations.

Tuscarora Superintendent Rebecca E. Erb said both parties worked hard to reach the agreement and get students back to school.

The state education association will likely release a final tally of teachers' votes today since votes were still being cast after 5 p.m. Monday, said Sheryl Allison, a member of the union negotiation team.

If the teachers approve the agreement, school board attorney Patrick Fanelli said a contract will be written and approved at the next school board meeting.

Teachers have been without a contract since July. If accepted by teachers, the contract will be in effect until June 2012 and back-dated to July 1.

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