ShareThis Page
Mt. Pleasant Area teachers to urge school board to support contract recommendations |

Mt. Pleasant Area teachers to urge school board to support contract recommendations

Jamie Martines
| Saturday, November 10, 2018 1:36 a.m
Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School

A large contingent of teachers from the Mt. Pleasant Area School District are expected to attend Monday’s school board meeting in an effort to move contract negotiations forward.

The contract between the district and the Mt. Pleasant Area Education Association — which represents 143 teachers, counselors, nurses and school psychologists — expired in August.

Salaries and health benefits, as well as issues related to sick day donation and classroom supplies, are among the major sticking points. The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board appointed a fact finder in mid-September to review the proposals after negotiations stalled.

Fact finders are intended to act as a neutral party that offer recommendations based on “the interest and welfare of taxpayers and the ability of the employer to finance and administer the issues proposed,” according to the report, which was issued Oct. 22 and is available online at the state Labor Relations Board website.

The school board voted to reject the 56-page report during a special meeting Oct. 25.

“The problem with the fact finding thing was that it was done with the teachers getting everything and the school getting nothing,” said John Sarnese, school board president. “The fact finder’s report was very biased.”

The union remains optimistic and hopes to settle with the board, said Terri Remaley, president of the Mt. Pleasant Area Education Association. Remaley called the fact finder’s report “fair and equitable.”

“The association didn’t get everything we had asked for, and the board didn’t get everything they had asked for,” Remaley said. “At this point, we’re just waiting to see what the board’s vote is going to be on Monday.”

Remaley declined to comment further, other than to say that the union wants to stay positive.

The report reviewed 34 contract items. The fact finder recommended the union’s proposal on 17 items and the board’s proposal on four. The fact finder recommended no change to the current contract language on 10 items and offered specific guidance on three items — salaries, tuition reimbursement for teachers’ continuing education and language blended learning opportunities.

After 10 days of consideration, the education association accepted the fact finder’s report, according to a statement from the union. They’re now asking the board to reconsider its decision. The board next meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the district administration building board room, 271 State St., Mt. Pleasant.

The union opposes an increase in health insurance payments and deductibles along with a proposed salary freeze, which would be followed by a less than 1 percent raise for the remainder of a teacher’s contract.

The union also seek to preserve a sick day donation program, which allows union members to donate sick days to colleagues in the event of an emergency. Practical matters, like purchasing sufficient school supplies for classrooms and bathroom breaks for elementary school teachers, also are being debated.

The board is pushing to extend the teacher workday from 7.5 hours to 8 hours per day and takes issue with requests for salary increases, Sarnese said.

There was also a dispute over including the Pennsylvania State Education Association and the National Education Association, state and national branches of the union, in the district’s contract with the local union chapter.

“Those guys have no skin in the game whatsoever,” Sarnese said of the state and national organizations. The board is willing to work with the local education association, he said.

The board also opposes signing a seven-year contract with the union, Sarnese said.

“We’re not against teachers,” Sarnese said. “We just want to get a good contract.”

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, or via Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, or via Twitter .

Categories: Westmoreland
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.