The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 9, 2013

Danville teacher contract talks to resume in May

By Robert Stoneback
The Daily Item

— DANVILLE — Contract negotiations between Danville’s school district and teacher’s union will resume May 1.

In March, a state-appointed fact-finder issued a report to both the Danville school board and the Danville Education Association containing suggestions on resolving a contract dispute. The fact-finder had been requested by school board members Allan Schappert and Christopher Outt in January, after they felt an impasse had been reached with negotiations.

The board voted to reject the report, while the DEA voted to accept it, requiring both parties to return to the bargaining table.

“The show-stopper for the board was the recommended salary increases, which when you cost them out are unaffordable,” said Schappert, who serves as the school board’s president.

The increases suggested by the report were a 2.5 percent retroactive salary increase for the 2012-2013 school year; a 2.8 percent increase for the 2013-2014 school year; a 3 percent increase for the 2014-2015 school year, and a 3.2 percent increase for the 2015-2016 school year. Also included were salary step advancements for every listed school year except 2012-2013.

With the step advancement figured in, said Schappert, a 2.8 percent increase in salary may actually be a four to six percent increase.

Dave Fortunato, president and head negotiator for the DEA, said the fact-finder would not have suggested the pay raises if they did not feel the district could afford them.

“There were things we weren’t crazy about and things we did like (in the report),” said Fortunato. While the teacher’s union was disappointed in decreases to tuition reimbursement and insurance price increases, the salary increases made them receptive to the contract.

Fortunato did say he was “baffled” that the district would turn down the report after requesting it from the state.

Schappert said the pay raises were not feasible in light of state mandated increases to the PSERs retirement fund.

For the 2012-2013 school year, the district is paying 12.36 percent of the retirement fund, Schappert said. In 2013-2014, that will increase to about 16.75 percent, to 21.25 percent in 2014-2015 and to 25.56 percent in 2015-2016.

The school board is also conscious of an approximate $1.25 million deficit projected for the next school year.

After the May 1 negotiation, a second meeting is scheduled for near the end of the month.