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Gateway School Board OKs unbudgeted bonus for Teamsters after new contract

Samson X Horne
| Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, 3:12 p.m.

The Gateway School Board on Sept. 20 passed a resolution that would give some employees an immediate $250 bonus.

The bonus will be given to Teamsters members who are Gateway employees, including custodians, secretaries, cafeteria workers, maintenance workers and aides, and will cost approximately $52,000, an expenditure that is not part of the district's budget.

The bonuses were proposed by board member George Lapcevich via a motion that was not on the agenda and passed 5-4, with board President Chad Stubenbort, Vice President Neal Nola and members Mary Beth Cirucci and John Ritter voting against it.

Lapcevich described the bonus as a “token of appreciation.”

The board had unanimously approved a new contract with 201 full- and part-time Teamsters members at the start of the meeting. The contract expires in June 2019.

“We gave them crumbs, not their fair share of the pie,” said Lapcevich.

Stubenbort said moving toward the end of a meeting to spend unbudgeted money shows a lack of transparency between the school board and district residents.

“It's a disservice to the community to bring up something in the voting meeting that could have been brought up during one of (the board's) study sessions. ... The public deserves a chance to comment and be made aware,” said board member Mary Beth Cirucci.

Lapcevich and board member Valerie Warning, who also voted for the bonus, are former Gateway employees who were Teamsters members; Lapcevich was a custodian who retired in 2005, while Warning left her aide position in December.

Cirucci said giving the bonuses “mocks the whole process” of negotiations. Lapcevich did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment after the meeting.

Stubenbort said he thought the unanimous approval of the contract meant the board was satisfied with the negotiated agreement.

“If (Lapcevich and Warning) thought (Teamsters members) were getting shortchanged, (then) why did they agree (to approve) the contract?” he said.

Cirucci also said the timing of the proposal was “nonsensical” and wouldn't help the board have leverage in upcoming negotiations with the teachers union, whose contract expires in August of next year.

“I'm flabbergasted,” said Nola. “We voted for (a new contract) and now we want to give them actually more (money). To me it makes absolutely no sense.”

Nola cautioned about future negotiations with district employees, and the danger of applying a bonus atop negotiations that are “done.”

“We are setting precedents today that are going to affect (future school) boards for years,” he said.

The board also:

• Voted unanimously to conduct a survey to gauge views of district residents regarding requiring students to wear uniforms to school. No information was provided about the sample size or when the surveys would go out; results of the survey are expected by the third Tuesday in November.

• Approved “no more than $25,000” for tree removal at Evergreen Elementary in an 8-1 vote, with Stubenbort voting against. Funds to cover the project were not in the budget.

• Approved, 5-4, “no more than $15,000” that also was not budgeted to install air conditioning units at Evergreen Elementary and University Park Elementary. Stubenbort, Nola, Cirucci and Ritter dissented. The cost estimate includes wiring, plus reimbursing any teachers who had provided their own units, the board said.

• Heard Lapcevich resign from his safety committee position.

Samson X Horne is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach him at 412-320-7845 or shorne@tribweb.com.

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