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Waynesboro meeting on teacher contract talks turns heated

Board President Ed Wilson cut off the public comment and negotiations discussion at 8:15 p.m

June 06, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Waynesboro Area School District’s teacher negotiations went public Wednesday, as the two sides argued for an hour in a specially scheduled school board meeting.

More thorough information was presented than had been released previously in 30 months of bargaining.

The last teachers’ contract expired June 30, 2010.

The school board released the results of recent mediation, saying it approved a written proposal, rejected a verbal one and developed a “compromise.”

The Waynesboro Area Education Association, which represents the teachers, rejected the proposals May 30. In doing so, it said it would “not consider non-negotiated proposals.”

According to school board member Rita Daywalt, the school board presented WAEA with two options:

• A 2.5 percent raise for 2012-13 and 2 percent employee contribution to health insurance with a deductible of $1,200 per person or $2,400 per family

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“The raise is fully funded by the savings gained by the higher deductible and 2 percent contribution,” Daywalt said.

• A 2.25 percent raise for 2012-13 and no employee contribution to health insurance with a deductible of $1,200 per person or $2,400 per family

Like the first proposal, the second one funds the pay increase with changes to health insurance, Daywalt said.

The school board rejected a proposal that would provide a 2.5 percent pay raise for 2012-13 with employees making no contributions to health insurance premiums, she said.

“I was very clear on the phone ... there was not support to do 2.5 percent without (health insurance) contribution,” school board member Lee Lemley said.

The school board previously announced it would not negotiate retroactively, meaning it won’t give pay increases for the 2010-11 or 2011-12 years of a new contract.

WAEA issued a news release last week regarding its rejection of the proposals.

“The Association will not consider non-negotiated proposals including what was given to (union president) Mike Engle this morning, May 30, 2012, and will send the bargaining team back to the bargaining table,” a motion passed unanimously by the teachers said.

Teacher Beth Coleman spoke during a public comment period at Wednesday’s meeting. She mentioned the “compromise” proposal.

“It was not negotiated. ... It was a ‘compromise’ you came up with,” she said.

“The point of the teachers is you said, ‘Here, take this,’” Engle said.

Both sides admitted there was some confusion about the results of mediation.

Back-and-forth comments between the school board and WAEA became heated at times.

After Engle commented about the results of other districts’ negotiations, Daywalt interjected.

“I’m sick to death of hearing what everybody else is getting,” she said, telling the teachers to apply elsewhere if they think the situations there are better.

Engle said he feels the disagreement has become “personal, philosophical and political, more than it is fiscal” for school board members.

“Is it benefiting this community by dragging this out?” Engle asked, then summed up his take on the meeting.

“We’re going to get some quotes (in the media). Lee is going to get some quotes,” he said. “We’re both probably going to send press releases out.”

“If you’re willing to sit at the (bargaining) table for 30 more months, we are,” Lemley said.

Board President Ed Wilson cut off the public comment and negotiations discussion at 8:15 p.m. By then, conversation had shifted to Waynesboro Area School District not doing random drug testing of teachers, and the full school board not attending graduation.

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