Homer-Center School District settles 4-year contract with support personnel

| Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, 9:38 p.m.

After working for more than 17 months without a contract in place, the wait is over for the 33 members of Homer-Center School District's educational support personnel union.

The Homer-Center School Board on Dec. 20 approved a new four-year contract between the district and the Homer-Center Educational Support Personnel Association. The board voted 8-0 to accept the contract. Sherri Williams was absent.

The contract, retroactive to July 1, 2011 and extending to June 30, 2015, includes wage increases of two percent each year for the three remaining years. The wage freeze workers took during the 2011-12 year was made official in the new contract.

HCESPA members will also see a change in health care coverage under the new contract, with deductibles of $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for families going into effect beginning in April.

Under a Health Reimbursement Arrangement, employees would be responsible for the first $250 of coverage under the new individual plan and the first $500 for a family plan.

New full-time employees will receive individual health care plans paid for by the district, but they would be responsible for 50 percent of the increased cost to add dependents to their plan.

Superintendent Charles Koren thanked HCESPA, the school board and the district's negotiation committee of Joy Sasala, Kimberly Thomas and Julie Rado for their work to reach an agreement on the contract.

HCESPA President Len Black said the union approved the contract with a 29-0 vote on Dec. 19. Four association members were not at that meeting, Black said.

“Negotiations are never easy and they required patience, persistence and an underlying foundational belief of what is best for the students and our community,” Koren said. “During these difficult times of school leadership for the board, multiple layers of fiscal constraint and the need for accountability, it seems both sides have arrived at a mutual working agreement.”

The board voted 7-0 to ratify the retroactive wage adjustments outlined in the Act 93 Personnel Group Compensation Plan and Fringe Benefits Plan approved at the board's Dec. 13 meeting. James McLoughlin abstained from voting, as his wife serves as director of the district's food service program.

The Act 93 plan is effective retroactive to July 1 and extends to June 30, 2015, covering the district's principals, maintenance supervisor, food service director and coordinator of curriculum and special programs.

The Act 93 plan calls for annual evaluative reviews, which carry a two-percent wage increase for employees with a satisfactory rating. Employees who exceed the satisfactory performance benchmark will receive an additional half- to 1.5-percent increase, based on the superintendent's evaluation.

An unsatisfactory review, according to the plan, “may result in a plan of improvement as well as remaining at the same salary scale as the previous fiscal year.”

The board also approved the hiring of Karen Sulkosky and Cheri Sprankle as elementary aides, retroactive to Dec. 17.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or greinbold@tribweb.com.

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