YORK RUN — For a second time, the Albert Gallatin Area School Board has accepted the report of a state-appointed fact-finder in an attempt to reach an agreement with district teachers on a new contract.
As it did two weeks earlier, the board on Wednesday unanimously approved the report, which if approved by the teachers’ union, will form the basis of a new contract. As required by Act 88, the state law that dictates school employee collective bargaining, both parties were required to take a second vote to accept the report after it was rejected by a vote of union members last week.
District teachers have been working without a contract since Aug. 15, 2018.
The Albert Gallatin Education Association will vote on the report Thursday. If the report is again rejected, the two sides will return to the bargaining table.
The district and the union entered fact-finding in June after negotiations dating to January 2018 failed to produce a contract. In May, the school board ratified a three-year contract retroactive to August 2018 that was rejected by the union.
Following the union’s rejection of the report and the conclusion of a 10-day confidentiality period from the time of the report’s initial issuance by fact-finder Michelle Miller-Kotula on July 29, the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board published the report Aug. 8 for public viewing.
The report details information collected at a formal fact-finding hearing conducted in July, including more than a dozen disputed issues filed by either party with the fact-finder regarding contract term, salary schedules, health insurance coverage and length of work day, among others.
At Wednesday’s meeting, district Superintendent Chris Pegg read a press release issued by the district regarding its approval of the report.
“I believe the report is fair and pays reasonable raises to the district’s teachers while giving the district and community some much-needed language changes which will improve education,” said Pegg.
The press release noted that the fact-finding report offers salary increases of 3%, 3.7%, 3.57% and 3.02% for the years 2018-19 to 2021-22, respectively.
Solicitor Lee Price said the district’s position during fact-finding was seeking a lower salary increase than that which was recommended by the fact-finder. Despite that, he said, the school board accepted the fact-finder’s recommendation Wednesday.
According to the report, the district at fact-finding proposed no retroactive salary adjustment to the 2018-19 school year and wage increases of 4.3%, 1%, 2% and 2% for the four subsequent years. However, Price said, the salary schedule recommended in the report is close to that which the two parties had initially agreed upon in May prior to contract talks falling through.
The report shows the union at fact-finding proposing wage increases of 4%, 3.63%, 3.63%, 3.63% and 3.66% over five years.
Pegg also noted in the press release that the report provides for:
n Health insurance through the Allegheny County School Health Insurance Consortium with P.P.O. or E.P.O. health plan options.
n A 30-minute meeting period held once a week (except for six designated weeks) during the school year when teachers will meet to collaborate to improve instruction through data analysis, cooperative planning and other educational activities.
n An additional three-hour period from teachers at the start of each school year for meeting parents and discussing curriculum.