The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

April 3, 2014

Danville school board, teacher union reps to meet Monday

DANVILLE — Leaders of the Danville school board and the Danville Education Association will meet Monday.

DEA president Dave Fortunato will meet with board president Allan Schappert at 2 p.m. in a conference room at the Danville High School, Schappert said. Fortunato will be joined by Mark McDade, labor representative for the DEA, while Schappert will be accompanied by Ben Pratt, chief negotiator for the district.

Schappert said the meeting was not a formal negotiating session and that Pratt had described it as a “sidebar” meeting.

The DEA has scheduled a teachers strike for April 17, after months of negotiating for a new contract with the district. A negotiation session has been scheduled for April 16, the day before the strike.

In addition, the DEA filed formal charges against the district earlier this week for what it calls a breach of labor laws. The charges stem from the board’s public reveal of its February contract offer to the DEA at its March 25 meeting. Fortunato said the reveal broke rules against negotiating in public. Schappert and the school board said the reveal was cleared by their attorneys.

The school district’s proposed wage increases in the four-year contract would raise the total amount spent by the district on teacher wages by 8.2 percent, according to the district’s business manager.

“That’s what the increase is overall, over the course of the four years,” said Janis Venna.

The proposal would not give each teacher an 8.2 percent raise, it would increase the net amount of money given in salaries to the Danville Education Association, Venna said.

The district’s latest offer to the DEA would increase the total amount spent by the district on teacher wages by approximately $832,757.

The original figures shared by the board stated the increase would be 8.26 percent, or $837,757. Venna said those original calculations were slightly off due to the way the salary increases were originally tallied. The $5,000 difference “is really not a player in the overall (financial) picture,” Venna said.

Under the proposed contract, the total amount spent on teacher salaries would have increased by approximately 1.5 percent from Jan. 1, 2014, to the end of the 2013-2014 school year; increased by 3.25 percent during the 2014-2015 school year, and gone up by another 3.25 percent during the 2015-2016 school year. A wage freeze would have occurred for the 2012-2013 school year.

The final percentage increase on wages comes to 8.2 percent, as the previous raises will go up slightly over the years due to the cumulative effects of the increases, Venna said.

The total wages and benefits package given to all Danville’s 190 teachers would have totaled $3.34 million, an increase of approximately 23.7 percent.

The increases to wages and benefits from the proposal would have eventually driven a tax increase, Schappert said, though it would be difficult to pinpoint just how much. Taxes are not increased on a one-for-one ratio with increases to wages and benefits, he said.

Venna said she had budgeted money for the district to use for possible wage increases, but those were all estimates as she had no way of knowing what a final contract would look like. “At this point, none of us really know,” she said.

The amount offered by the school board most recently was “in the same ballpark” as her estimates, Venna said.

Earlier this year, the board voted to stay within the state’s 2.5 percent maximum real estate tax increase for its coming budget year.

Email comments to rstoneback@thedanvillenews.com.

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