No progress made in talks between Waynesboro school board, teachers

November 16, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Mike Engle, chief negotiator for the Waynesboro Area Education Association, addresses the Waynesboro Area School Board in this Herald-Mail file photo.
Herald-Mail file photo

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Wednesday's negotiating session between the Waynesboro Area School Board and its teachers union failed to yield any major agreements leading to a new contract.

The two sides have been negotiating a new contract for nearly two full years.

"No progress was made today. Neither side made any new proposals," Richard Galtman, lead negotiator for the school board, said Wednesday.

Galtman said the two sides met together only five to 10 minutes, spending the remainder of the evening in their own caucuses.

The teachers union's chief negotiator, Mike Engle, emailed The Herald-Mail a statement.

"The board did not modify their proposal. We are disappointed they do not want to work toward compromise," he said on behalf of the Waynesboro Area Education Association.

The two sides did formalize a tentative agreement they reached previously about paid leave for teachers with specific extra duties, Galtman said.

"We made it clear from day one that our proposals are based on economics. We're in an unprecedented economic spiral," Galtman said.

In his email, Engle disagreed.

"This board has been willing to put new bleachers in the stadium and actually consider spending over $100,000 to move a dirt pile, but they don't want to invest in the people educating our children," Engle wrote.

He said it's "not a matter of finances" for the school board.

"They have one of the healthiest fund balances in the county. It is an issue of them wanting to show power; otherwise, they would be willing to compromise," he wrote.

The school board is limited by Act 1 tax-increase index constraints and increased contributions to the state retirement system at a time when its revenues are dwindling, according to Galtman.

The teachers' "proposal is going to cost the district $1 million (over the life of the contract) above and beyond what it costs now," Galtman said. "We don't have any ability to fund anything without moderate to aggressive changes to the contract, especially benefits."

"WAEA's proposal is already lower than what other schools in the area have accepted over the past two years," Engle wrote.

The school board is proposing across-the-board $600 salary increases in two years of the new contract, while the Waynesboro Area Education Association is seeking percentage increases.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Dec. 12.

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