KENWOOD — The Penns Manor Education Association has rejected a contract proposal made by the Penns Manor Area School District.

“PMEA complied with the district’s request to bring their proposal to the general membership for a straw poll,” said Annie Briscoe, an advocacy coordinator for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, of which PMEA is an affiliate.

“They did so (Friday) night and it was unanimously rejected,” Briscoe continued. “We have another bargaining session scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 25, and we hope to make serious progress at the table then.”

Asked about it Saturday morning, Jill Eckenrode, vice president of the district’s board of directors, who also chairs its negotiations committee, said, “The district has no comment at this time.”

However, she added, the district “confirms the next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 5 p.m.”

On PMEA’s Facebook page, the teachers said the district proposed excluding selective families from the health care provisions.

“No longer providing health care to teacher family members is not an option we are willing to consider,” the union posted in its latest “fact sheet” on that page. “Since the district’s operational budget has consistently resulted in surpluses for numerous years, making such a drastic concession is fiscally unnecessary.”

PMEA said it is willing to make concessions in other areas “but losing our family’s health care coverage is simply a line we won’t cross.”

In November, in a response after PMEA took a strike authorization vote, district officials said Penns Manor “experienced an increase of 12.9 percent in medical care premiums” in 2022. “In an effort to offset that increase, the school district has asked the PMEA negotiating team to consider various concessions relative to health care.”

The district pointed out that “teachers pay $700 per year for family medical coverage. Likewise, the teachers pay $350 per year for their single medical coverage. The school district bears a burden of 75 percent of deductibles in addition to the insurance premiums.”

At a recent board meeting, in answer to requests by some parents to settle with the PMEA, Board President Robert Packer insisted that “we have chosen not to negotiate this contract in public,” and that “the best place to negotiate is at the negotiating table.”

Earlier this past week, the union posted that “January 2023 marks one year since negotiations began” between the union and the district.

“It also marks six months since the PMEA contract expired,” the union posted in a “fact sheet” dated Wednesday, before emphasizing that “teachers want to reach an agreement — not strike.”

The union, which has approximately 60 members, said, “while every other public school in the area operated remotely or on a hybrid schedule in the 2020-21 school year, (Penns Manor) teachers chose to keep the school operating in-person, while also teaching online at the same time,” giving parents and students options of in-person learning or online education.