East Allegheny board rejects fact-finder's report, approves budget with no tax hike
Before a standing-room-only crowd, East Allegheny School District's board of directors took several major actions Monday night.
The board again rejected a state fact-finder's teachers contract recommendation, while a 2012-13 budget was passed with no tax increase.
The $30,316,657 plan is slightly higher than the proposed final plan passed last month. It is based on a 27.54-mill real estate tax rate, with each mill netting approximately $462,000.
It was passed unanimously. However, a state fact-finder's recommendations for resolving a dispute with the 128-member East Allegheny Education Association again was rejected, this time by a 7-1 vote.
"We're extremely disappointed that the board again voted no to the fact-finder's recommendations," EAEA president Lou Gerbi said after the meeting, "a fact-finder that they requested and (a report that) includes numerous concessions from our members."
"The district cannot afford the recommendations," board members said in a resolution rejecting Robert C. Gifford's May 21 findings that included a wage freeze in the first year of a three-year contract, but a 0.5 percent raise plus an increase of one tenure step in years two and three.
With that latter suggestion, school director Frank Pearsol III said, the recommended annual raise "came out to slightly more than 4 percent."
School director Beverly Koch was the lone dissenter, as was the case at the first rejection of Gifford's recommendations last month. She said she had to vote her conscience.
"I thought it was fair," Koch said. "The teachers came a long way in the negotiations."
Koch has the perspective of a teacher, the job she has at Forbes Road Career and Technology Center. She said she's a union member, but in a different affiliate of the National and Pennsylvania State education associations than the EAEA.
Several dozen EAEA members attended the meeting in "TEACH" (Tell Everyone All Cuts Hurt) T-shirts. None spoke during the portion of the meeting given to public comment.
Gerbi said he has had three wage freezes during his 18 years as a teacher at East Allegheny. Gerbi addressed the district's use of the website to post a rebuttal to his comments as reported in area newspapers.
"The board should negotiate in good faith and accept the fact-finder's report," Gerbi wrote in a statement given to reporters prior to the meeting. "Let's get back to using the East Allegheny School District website to promote the accomplishments of our students."
The board's rebuttal said in part that "the East Allegheny School District is one of the most financially challenged school districts in the state." Gerbi's pre-meeting statement used a district action to question that.
"The board brought in Don Boyer, Montour School District superintendent and co-owner of Education Management Group, to testify regarding the district's financial health," Gerbi said. "Mr. Boyer testified that the district is not distressed."
Gerbi also rebutted a Daily News account that suggested that his union called for tax increases.
"I never, never asked for a tax increase," Gerbi said.Earlier stories quoted the Gifford report, zeroing in on what he called a summary provided by the union. It read in part:
"Millage rates for property taxes have not been rising at the (Pennsylvania Department of Education) Act 1 index, meaning that East Allegheny has been forgoing some of the revenue it needs to cover the expenditures." Pearsol said that index would allow a 0.58-mill tax hike in 2012-13.
"We asked when the last time was that the district raised taxes," Gerbi said.
There was one absent school director, William Gates. District business manager Toni Valicenti said Gates is recovering from recent surgery.
In light of his absence from recent meetings, Gates gave up his role as board treasurer, a post given unanimously to director Roxanne Sakoian Eichler. Valicenti said Gates is not resigning from the board itself.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Homestead business owner recalls similar fire 26 years ago
- Local Catholic Schools Week celebrations include fun activities, community service
- Use of police body cameras increases; Whitaker explores purchase
- Lincoln replaces 3 departing part-time police officers
- Weather not a factor in deadly double SUV crash in West Mifflin
- Rape charges against Versailles bar owner dropped in plea deal
- Glassport explores solutions for geese fouling up athletic fields
- West Mifflin’s Community Day to return to airport
- LifeSpan opens fitness center in McKeesport
- Liberty OKs oil and gas lease with Huntley & Huntley
- West Mifflin Area sues Martell over continuing education credit costs