Ringgold teachers OK four-year deal
Ringgold School District teachers are back in the classroom for the start of the new school year, a four-year contract in hand.
But a six-vote swing was the difference between resolution of an 18-month contract impasse and the likelihood of a strike.
“This meeting was very telling tonight,” Ringgold Education Association President Diana Kristobek said shortly after the membership narrowly approved the contract.
“If it was rejected, we would have had to revisit the whole situation, and a strike was a possibility.
“A lot of members felt either pass it or strike.”
Kristobek would say only that “the vote was close, but it passed.”
Bill Stein, school board vice president and chief negotiator, said the vote was 102-90 for passage.
The teachers authorized a strike Feb. 10, but never walked off the job.
The teachers worked though the 2013-14 school year without a contract. The old pact expired Aug. 31, 2013.
The union represents 215 teachers.
Stein called strike talk “speculation.”
“It was passed, and we're looking to move forward,” Stein said. “It's silly to speculate about what would have happened. I'm grateful to all teachers who ratified this.”
The contract includes a wage freeze for the 2013-14 school year. The teachers will receive hikes, on average, of 2.8 percent for 2014-15, 2.5 percent for 2015-16 and 3.3 percent for 2016-17.
Under the deal, teachers will have the option of staying with their current health care plan – with higher monthly contributions – or accepting a preferred provider organization plan.
The latter carries a $200 deductible rate for individuals and a $400 deductible rate for couples and families.
The most unpopular portion of the contract was a spousal exclusion. Spouses who work for the state, federal government or another school district are excluded from Ringgold health care coverage.
Kristobek said union leadership was not pleased with the spousal exclusion, adding it was a part of the give-and-take involved in the pact.
She called the contract “bittersweet.”
“We negotiated for 18 months and it was difficult,” Kristobek said.
Stein said the board will likely meet in special session Tuesday to ratify the contract.
“It's been a big issue for us and certainly it's been a big issue for the teachers,” Stein said.
“We're excited that it has been ratified and we can move forward.”
Stein said contract talks were “conducted in good atmosphere, even though they took longer than we had hoped for.”
“It was a difficult contract,” Stein said. “We're comfortable this helps the district move forward.
“We have a really good group of teachers and they work hard. And they want to make this district a success.”
“It was a long and difficult process,” said Alisa M. Compeau, Pennsylvania State Education Association UniServ representative.
“But negotiations are about compromise, and at the end of the day we have a contract.”
Stein acknowledged that “Ringgold has a lot on its plate.”
At the meeting in which the contract is expected to be approved, the board will discuss plans to renovate Ringgold Elementary School North and approve a request for state funding for a new middle school under the state's PlanCON system.
PlanCon, short for Planning and Construction Workbook, is a set of forms and procedures used to apply for state reimbursement.
The PlanCon forms are designed to document a local school district's planning process, provide justification for a project to the public, ascertain compliance with state laws and regulations and establish the level of state participation in the cost of the project.
The board last month authorized architect HHSDR to submit documents applying for funding under PlanCON.
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Suicide support group at Monongahela Valley Hospital looks to fill void
- Oldies concert to give Charleroi school programs a boost
- Brownsville hopes grant can help launch project
- Concert, dinner set to help California minister get new liver
- Donora always welcome destination for Gantt
- Child abuse suspect apprehended, his mom charged
- Monessen nuisance bar hearing opens
- East Bethlehem woman charged in home invasion in which her husband was killed
- Former Monessen Mayor Smith injured in train crossing crash
- Mormons in Valley for mission project
- Donora man apprehended after North Belle Vernon pharmacy robbery