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Waynesboro school board, teachers fail to agree on contract

June 11, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Monday’s round of negotiations between the Waynesboro Area School Board and the district’s teachers union failed to produce a contract agreement.

The union’s president, Mike Engle, blamed the school board, saying its negotiating team threw a wrench into discussions involving a matter already separately headed to arbitration.

The school board’s representative said the union brought up the matter; his side thought it was moot.

At issue is whether teachers who furthered their own education should have “column” movement on the pay scale for 2010-11 and 2011-12, the two years the district has been without a contract.

Teachers, who are represented by the Waynesboro Area Education Association, could be entitled to an increased base bay for being in a better column classification.

The column issue should be decided separately by an arbitrator, Engle said.

“It’s many months away” from being decided, he said.

“We thought the issue had been resolved by bargaining. ... Up until this time, we presumed it would go away with the settlement,” said Richard Galtman, an attorney for the school board.

The school board thought the column grievance would be dropped when a new contract was signed, he said.

The school board always presented that there would not be a raise or movement on the pay scale for 2010-11, according to Galtman.

“That’s been our proposal since day one,” he said of negotiations, which started in January 2010.

Any potential increases for 2011-12 were lost as bargaining dragged on, since the school board does not want to provide retroactive pay hikes, Galtman said.

The last contract included a statement saying that upon achieving an educational advancement, a teacher would move to a better column, Engle said. The school board has honored column movement during contract impasses in the past, he said.

“The grievance deals with pay the district unjustly withheld. The district is trying to get out of paying it, even if they lose the arbitration,” Engle wrote in an email after a phone interview.

Affected are about 30 teachers for 2010-11 and 2011-12, Galtman said.

Engle said he left four hours of negotiations Monday “confused.”

“The agreement had virtually all the pieces the board was after,” he said.

Galtman reiterated that an agreement needs to be reached by Friday to make changes to the district’s health insurance offerings for 2012-13. The school board wants to tie any salary increases to changes in benefits.

“If we don’t get it done (this week), we’re not going to get it done at all,” he said.

The school board recently agreed to decrease the number of work days for teachers, and the two sides reached agreement on most everything else, Galtman said.

“We thought things were all resolved,” Galtman said, saying both sides got “what-if” ideas on the table and explored them.

“We’re very close, to be honest,” he said. “It’d be a shame to not have an agreement.”

The two sides agreed to meet Thursday.

“We’ll meet one more time to see if there’s something to talk about. ... Sometimes, the last push is the hardest,” Galtman said.

“We’re going to sit down for one last-ditch effort ... (but) they don’t seem willing,” Engle said.

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