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Clarion School Board Contract Re-Vote Scheduled for June 6 After Work Session

Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 12:05 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

clarion-areaCLARION, Pa. (EYT) – As reported earlier, the Clarion Area School Board will vote again on a tentative contract with the teachers association on Tuesday, June 6, following a scheduled work session at 7:00 p.m.  The school board is likely to again approve the tentative contract.

The board voted on Thursday, May 11, to approve the tentative contract, but questions were raised about the validity of the meeting because it was not advertised in a newspaper of paid general circulation 24 hours in advance of the meeting.

Clarion Superintendent Michael Stahlman requested a review of the action from its solcitior (Beard Legal Group out of Altoona because it had to deal with a labor contract) and was advised to reschedule another vote.

Pennsylvania Sunshine Act requirements state, “The meeting notice must be published in a newspaper in the area where the principal office of the agency is located or in the area where the meeting is being held. The newspaper must have a paid circulation that is equal to or greater than any other newspaper in the area.”

An ad was placed in exploreClarion.com and while exploreClarion.com is an electronic information source and has approximately 550,000 visits per month, it does not meet the requirements because it does not have a paid circulation (it is free), and it is not a printed newspaper.

ExploreClarion.com was able to publish the legal ad in time to meet the deadline at a cost of $149.00.

At the special Thursday afternoon meeting in question, the Clarion Area School Board members approved a four-year tentative teachers’ contract from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2021.

The teachers association approved the tentative contract on Thursday, May 11.

The district estimates it will save approximately $387,934.00 over the length of the contract.  The contract would also call for slightly more than two percent raises in each of the four years.

“The estimates include all increases in salary and costs, including the increase in contributions to the state retirement system over which neither the district nor the teachers association has control; increased in contributions to social security and workers’ compensation as required by law and the savings experienced in health insurance and longevity elimination,” said Superintendent Michal Stahlman. “Long term savings not yet determined are not considered.”

A breakdown of the estimated savings includes:

• 2017-18, $113,094.00

• 2018-19, $109,160.00

• 2019-20, $93,934.00

• 2020-21, $71,749.00

“The teachers association approached the board last year in the budget process and offered a complete freeze for the 2016-17 school year,” said Stahlman.  “With a memorandum to that effect, it brought us to June 2017, and this is a successor agreement we are considering.”

Stahlman said there is a significant change in healthcare benefits that provide savings for the district.

“We’re going to a $1,500/$3,000 qualified high deductible plan with a Health Savings Account (HSA) attached to that.  The cost savings to the district over the four-year term contract is over a little over $106,000.00. We are self-insured through a consortium, a group to offset the highs and lows.”

The district also tentatively agreed to contribute 50 percent of the deductible each year of the contract to the HAS account.  Employees will pay $2.50 per month toward administrative fees for HSA.

Salary increases for the following years include:

• 2017-18 – 2.02 percent increase inclusive of step increase are a cost of the district of $75,359.00

• 2018-19 — 2.29 percent increase inclusive of steps and a cost to the district of $87,472.00

• 2019-20 – 2.03 percent increase inclusive of step increases for a total cost to the district of $79,166.00

• 2020-21 — 2.03 percent increase inclusive of step increases for a total cost to the district of $80,821.00.

School board members voting to accept the agreement included Julie McCormick, Shane Kriebel, Eric Funk, George Alexander, Julie Hartley, Dave Estadt, and President Hugh Henry.

A detailed contract using the guidelines in the tentative agreement will be developed for final approval by both the school board and teachers association.

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