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BLAIRSVILLE-SALTSBURG: Teachers, support staff reach accord on new labor contracts

by on April 17, 2014 10:55 AM

BURRELL TOWNSHIP — The Blairsville-Saltsburg School District ratified an early-bird contract with the teachers union Wednesday, settling on terms through August 2019.

In addition, contracts were reached with support staff and cafeteria workers.

The contract with the Blairsville-Saltsburg Education Association, which represents 139 teachers, is from Aug. 25, 2015, to Aug. 24, 2019.

The Blairsville-Saltsburg Education Support Professionals, representing 49 members who are secretaries, aides and attendance officers, is through Aug. 23, 2018.

The unions ratified the contracts Friday, said Kathy Muir, of the BSEA, and Larissa Csanyi, of the BSESP.

Contract highlights, as provided by Business Manager Eric Kocsis, are:

• Teachers will receive a 2.49 percent raise from 2015-16 to 2018-19.

• Secretaries agreed to a pay freeze for 2014-15, and will receive a 2.25 percent annual raise for the remaining years.

• Aides will not have a pay freeze, in order to get in line with other aide salaries in the county, Kocsis said. They will receive a 2.5 percent raise for all years.

• Attendance officers agreed to the one-year pay freeze, and will receive 2.25 percent for the remaining years.

• A new lower pay scale will be in effect for cafeteria workers, secretaries and attendance officers hired after Aug. 24.

• Cafeteria workers agreed to a pay freeze for 2014-15, and will receive annual raises of 20 cents per hour from 2015-16 through 2017-18.

The biggest change is the switch to a high deductible health plan, Kocsis said. Employees with single coverage will have a $1,250 deductible, and those with family coverage will have a $2,500 deductible.

To help with the deductible, the district will create HSA accounts that cover 67 percent of the employee’s deductible, or $837 for single coverage and $1,675 for families.

The employee will be responsible for the rest of the deductible, Kocsis said.

The savings from the switch will amount to $48,000 per year, he said.

Kocsis, Muir and Csanyi praised everyone’s efforts in reaching a contract agreement.

The last time the board and BSEA reached a contract in 2011, it took 32 meetings and two years of negotiations.

In other business, the board:

• Heard from parents Stacy and Frank Plowman, who asked for an update regarding parents’ complaints about Saltsburg Middle/High School Principal Allan Berkhimer.

Parents have alleged Berkhimer unjustly disciplines students through suspensions, among other complaints, and the Plowmans submitted a petition to the district with nearly 100 signatures calling for action.

Solicitor Gary Matta, who has been reviewing the information, has completed the investigation, said Jack Cambest, who also serves as solicitor.

Cambest said the results will not be discussed publicly, as it is a personnel issue.

Stacy Plowman responded by saying she is “in shock” that the investigation is already complete and complained that information provided by parents, such as letters about incidents, were forwarded to “people that had no right” to view the documents, including Kocsis.

She called it a “tainted investigation” and ended her comments to the board by saying, “It doesn’t stop here. Believe me.”

• Approved a membership agreement with Westmoreland Intermediate Unit e-Academy for cyberschool services for three years at $16,000 per year.

• Approved the following field trips at no cost to the district: BSSD gifted students, Heinz History Center, June 2; BSSD gifted students, PA Middle School Computer Fair, May 20, 21; BES Pre-K Counts, Cornell Creamery, May 30; and BHS National Honor Society, Station Square and PNC Park, no date provided; BHS student council, PNC Park, April 24; and SMHS senior trip, Cedar Point, May 30.

• Accepted the resignation of Whitney Shearer, BMHS junior high volleyball assistant coach, and approved Ryan Conrad for the position.

• Approved the following supplemental positions: Toscha Morris, BHS varsity cheerleading coach; Lisa Fodor, BHS junior high cheerleading coach; Mike Funyak, BMHS junior high boys’ basketball assistant coach; Ralph McGinnis, BMHS junior high girls’ head coach; Lynn Martin, BMHS girls’ basketball assistant coach; Tim Ault, BMHS junior high girls’ coach and Paul Hall, assistant; Kathy Muir and Cara Coulter, SMHS yearbook co-advisers; Coulter, SMHS junior class adviser; and Muir, senior class adviser and math department chairwoman.

• Approved Greg Kaylor to participate in a team of 10 Pennsylvania teachers to develop a course for high schoolers on financial literacy titled “Making Cents.” Kaylor will attend a work session from May 29 to 31 in Carlisle at the Penn State Cooperative Extension.

• Approved a leave of absence for Jolene Spadafora, SMHS science teacher, retroactive from April 10 to June 10.

• Approved the following long-term substitutes: Regis Rogel, SES, May 22 to the end of the school year; and Kelly Affolter, BES, retroactive to April 10 through the end of the school year.

• Approved Ken McGinnis for BMHS girls’ basketball volunteer coach.

Margaret Weaver has served as a Gazette staff writer since 2006. She covers Clymer Borough, the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District and Blairsville court, and also works in the areas of layout, design and editing. She can be reached at
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