By Jack Mariano
The Octorara Area School District Board of Directors recently approved a new contract with the Octorara Area Education Association with a 9-0 vote.
The agreement is for four years retroactively, starting July 1, 2014 and ending June 30, 2018.
Director Brian Norris tells Parkesburg Today that the average salary increase is 1.73 percent per year. But it was not based on percentages, but rather a fixed dollar amount.
According to Board President Lisa Bowman, the new contract includes savings in health care costs through deductibles, prescription plan changes and co-premium increases that offset salary increases. Additionally spousal health care language was included along with additional in-service time. Salary increases averaging 1.73 percent during the length of the contract are below most recent settlements in our area. “Though we rejected the fact finders report as a whole we were able to take parts of the agreement we found acceptable and move forward. Both parties involved were respectful of each other’s requests, and every attempt was made at each session to move forward on the issues.” Said the President.
In a joint press release from the Board and the teacher’s association, located on the OASD website, the terms of the agreement break down like this:
2014-2015 One Time Off Scale Payment of $750
2015-2106 $450 Added to Each Step and Level Plus Movement for Seniority
2016-2017 $500 Added to Each Step and Level Plus Movement for Seniority
2017-2018 $550 Added to Each Step and Level Plus Movement for Seniority
2014-2015 2.6% Increase
2015-2016 2.6% Increase
2016-2017 2.6% Increase
2017-2018 2.6% Increase
2015-2016 through 2017-2018 Change in Medical Plan to reduce overall costs by increased co pays and adding deductibles.
2015-2016 through 2017-2018 Change in Prescription Plan to reduce overall costs by instituting limitations and exclusions of some prescriptions, instituting a generic step therapy provision and increasing the brand name co pay.
The agreement is the result of 22 months of hard work by the two parties, including approximately 30 face-to-face meetings and separate meetings by both parties amounting to over 80 hours of deliberation by the negotiating teams.
Pennsylvania has been without a budget since the current one expired on June 30. School Districts are not permitted to receive funds from the Commonwealth until a budget is approved and the General Assembly appropriates the funds to support the public school system. So, as the school districts within the state have a general idea of how much that amount will be, nobody knows for certain. Some school districts are already feeling the squeeze and are taking steps to borrow operating monies until the state funds are appropriated. Not the case at Octorara.
In an email reply from Business Manager Jeff Curtis, he writes “The State’s failure to pass a budget has impacted the District by withholding all state subsidy and federal grant payments, except for property tax relief and debt service reimbursement, payable to the School District. Octorara Area School District expects to receive approximately $14,674,110 in combined state subsidy and federal grants. Of the $14.6 million due to the District, only $1.8 million will be paid out until the State Budget is passed. Due to the Board’s excellent management of past General Fund balance the District should not experience any cash flow difficulties unless the State Budget impasse extends beyond early spring of next year. The bottom line impact resulting from the District’s withheld subsidy is a loss of long term investment income and the possible cost of borrowing operating funds if the impasse does extend beyond next spring.”