Southmoreland school board ratifies teacher contract
A contract is in place for Southmoreland School District teachers.
The school board Thursday ratified the successor agreement to the contract between the district and the Southmoreland Education Association that was set to expire June 30. The new deal begins July 1 and runs through June 30, 2020.
The motion to ratify the pact was approved by each of the eight school directors present. Director Ken Alt was not in attendance at Thursday’s meeting.
Superintendent John Molnar spoke favorably about the negotiations process.
“There was a lot of hard work on both sides to make this happen,” Molnar said. “We did not use any outside negotiators nor did we use a state mediator. We sat across the table from each other as colleagues as we should and we got the job done.”
Zack Cavalier, president of the Southmoreland Education Association, said an “overwhelming majority” of the district’s teachers voted in favor of the contract.
He also was happy with the negotiations.
“I thought the process went well,” Cavalier said. “Both parties were real respectful of one another, which was a breath of fresh air compared to past contracts. We were able to get it done without the input of too many outside parties. Everybody on our committee was from the community. They had a handle on what was going on. Everybody had good background on the history of the district, so it was helpful.”
Molnar said that new money added to the contract was about 1.3 percent per year, “which is under the standard cost of living.” As far as providing for increases, inclusive of increment and step, the contract language is as follows — 4.5 percent cumulative each year of 2015-2016, 2016-2017 and 2017-2018; 4 percent cumulative for 2018-2019 and 3.75 percent for 2019-2020. It is all based on the reference year of 2014-2015.
“That’s the cost of sustaining the salary schedule,” Cavalier explained. “What had been budgeted for was roughly 3 percent. They added 1.3 (percent) on top of that.”
Other provisions of the deal include:
• Employees will pay 8 percent of the hospitalization coverage pre tax, but now it is without a cap.
• The required compensation for unused sick days in regards to the yearly retirement allowance will be reduced from 15 to 10 years of service in the district and 25 to 20 years of combined service with another district.
• Another provision under the heading of yearly retirement allowance, there will be an increase provided of $50 to $60 for each unused sick days up to a maximum of 245 days.
Also, barring any more cancellation of classes the remainder of the school year, graduation day will remain May 29.
There will be three instruction days tacked on after that day for the remainder of the student body (June 1-3) that will be makeup days for days canceled due to inclement weather.
Seniors will make up those days on three Saturdays to be utilized for commencement rehearsal.
“The (Pennsylvania Public) school code allows three Saturday rehearsals to count as student days of attendance for seniors,” Molnar said. “By doing that, we can keep graduation set where it was.”
Other makeup days will be April 2, 6 and 7 and May 26.
Finally, the board will have a public meeting on the 2015-2016 budget at 7 p.m. March 26 in the middle school cafeteria.
Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or email@example.com.