The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

June 5, 2014

Little progress reported in Southern Columbia contract negotiations

CATAWISSA — The contract negotiations between Southern Columbia Area School Board members and teachers took a step backward Wednesday, according to Mark McDade, a Pennsylvania State Education Association representative from the northeast regional office in Wilkes-Barre.

The newest offer from the district was less than what was proposed at the April 29 negotiation session, McDade said.

“They regressed,” he said. “They did not realize they did that and were apologetic, but they did not rectify it yet by proposing a new deal.”

Board Vice President Charlie Porter, who chairs the negotiation committee, was unable to be reached for comment.

The district’s 105 teachers have been working under a three-year contract that expired June 30.

“We made very little progress. A great deal of discussion was had, but there is a distance and a differing of opinions in regards to salary and health care,” McDade said. “The board is so far from the middle from where we believe we can reach an agreement.”

The session started at 3:30 p.m. and lasted four hours, he said.

The next negotiation meeting where the district is expected to submit their latest proposal was not scheduled yet, McDade said.

The district recently approved the proposed $18,787,210 budget by cutting five teaching positions and several programs, implementing a $50 fee for certain extracurricular activities and other cost savings measures.

Taxes were also raised: property owners in Northumberland County saw an increase from 53.02 mills to 52.86 and property owners in Columbia County saw a tax increase from 37.3627 mills to 39.68 mills.

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