YORK RUN — Contract negotiations will continue between the Albert Gallatin Area School District and its teachers after the two sides failed to reach a resolution through fact-finding.
The district and the teacher’s union will return to the bargaining table following the union’s rejection for a second time of a fact-finding report issued in hopes of ending the labor stalemate.
The school board had accepted the report, also for a second time, at a meeting last Wednesday, a day prior to the Albert Gallatin Education Association (AGEA) voting down the report.
The report, if approved by both parties, would have formed the basis of a new contract. As required state law, both parties are required to take a second vote to accept the report if it is rejected by either side, as was the case at Albert Gallatin.
At the board meeting, the district issued a press release regarding the board’s approval of the report, which was published by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board for public viewing earlier this month.
The press release noted that the 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. However, he said, the school board chose to accept the fact-finder’s recommendation.
The press release notes that the report also 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.
“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 district Superintendent Chris Pegg.
However, Mary Ellen Jones, a UniServ representative from the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) who serves as a labor relations specialist for the teachers’ union, said salary and health care benefits were not the crux of the union’s rejection of the report.
“We don’t think that some of the things (the district) presented in fact-finding were good for education or good for kids,” said Jones.
With the fact-finding cycle complete, Jones said the union has requested two dates for negotiations.
“We’re ready to move forward and work towards a fair and equitable contract for our teachers,” she said.
District teachers have been working without a contract since Aug. 15, 2018.
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.