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No deal in place for Chambersburg teachers, board

January 10, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Talks between the Chambersburg Area School Board and its teachers union resumed Monday, but a new collective-bargaining agreement appears far out of sight.

The district and the Chambersburg Area Education Association met for more than two hours Monday night, and while they said they are in agreement on a “majority of issues,” the main sticking points for a new deal still remain: wages and health care, the board said.

In a news release issued Monday night, the district said it extended a new offer to the teachers Monday that it felt addressed all three issues in a fair manner.

The board offered a lump-sum payment of $1,100 to every teacher, which is 2 percent of the average teacher salary of $54,314, and a 3 percent wage increase for 2011-12, which would be an additional $1,629 for the average teacher salary.

The offer will cost the district $697,222 in 2010-11 and $1,028,864 in 2011-12, the board said.

“In the 2006 contract, teachers received 4.5 percent increases for four years in a row,” the board said. “Considering the recent economic downturn and forecasts of decreased state funding, dramatic increases in retirement costs and health care, and stagnant local revenue, the school board believes this is a fair and affordable offer.”

In regard to health care, teachers currently pay 7 percent of the cost of their premiums. The board’s offer Monday included an 8 percent contribution from teachers in 2010-11, starting with the signing of the contract, and a 10 percent contribution from teachers for 2011-12.

For a teacher who chooses family coverage, that would represent an increase of $12 per month for the remainder of the current school year and approximately $30 per month in 2011-12, the board said.

Dave Snyder, president of the teachers association, chose not to speak about specifics of the meeting when reached by telephone Monday night. A date has not been set to meet again with the board, he said.

“We were hoping tonight would be the night that we would settle,” Snyder said. “We are looking at what our possible reactions can be and we will be talking to our general membership next week.”

Snyder said the union membership, which is comprised of 579 teachers, will meet Jan. 19 to decide on its next course of action, including the possibility of a strike.
“Striking is one of the possible options,” he said. “We have not decided what we’re going to do.”

The board, however, is sticking to its guns that its proposals are in the best interest of the community with respect to the current economic climate and the district’s financial situation.

“The school board continues to extend an offer to negotiate with CAEA in good faith with the goal of reaching a settled contract,” the board said in the statement. “As elected representatives of the community, the school directors believe this offer made during these uncertain economic times and under these current circumstances is fair.”

With negotiations continually grinding to a halt, the CAEA on Dec. 17 authorized a potential strike. The district said a strike would have a dramatic and negative impact on the quality of education for district students, as well as proliferate the negative financial standing of the district in the future.

“The school board greatly values the work of our professional staff in preparing our students for success,” the board said.

Before Monday, the two sides, which have been in negotiations since December 2009, last met Dec. 21, just before the district’s holiday break.

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