Plum School District and teachers union formally approve new 6-year contract
The Plum School District and its teachers’ union approved a new, six-year contract.
A tentative agreement was reached earlier this year. The teachers union ratified it April 4 and the board approved it via 7-1 vote at a special meeting Tuesday night.
School Director Rich Zucco dissented. Jim Rogers was absent and Karen Acquaviva voted by phone.
The deal is retroactive to July 1, 2018 and runs through June 30, 2024.
District Business Manager John Zahorchak said there is a pay freeze for the 2018-19 school year and a flat $1,500 raise for the 2019-20 school year.
Teachers will move up a step in their pay scale in 2020-21, receive a flat $1,900 raise in 2021-22, go up a step in 2022-23 and get a flat $1,500 increase the last year of the contract.
Teachers also will pay a minimum of 10 percent toward their health care premiums the next two school years. That increases to 13 percent in 2021-22 and 15 percent in the final two years of the deal.
The contract also increases total number of work days from 188 to 193 by the end of the agreement.
Superintendent Brendan Hyland said the additional days will allow teachers to focus on new student assessment initiatives and increase educational opportunities for Plum youths.
“Although both sides did not get everything they wanted in this agreement, we worked together, compromised, and were able to find common ground in order to collectively move forward on a path that is fair for our teachers, fiscally responsible for the district’s future, and most importantly, good for the children of our community,” Hyland said.
He also commended both negotiating teams and said they were working in the best interest of students.
Union President David Gray referred questions to Pennsylvania State Education Association spokesman Matt Edgell.
“It’s what the Plum EA leadership felt was needed to move forward and concentrate on the future, have labor peace and concentrate on their students,” Edgell said of the contract. He declined further comment.
The last four-year contract expired June 30. The district let go of multiple staffers due to budget cuts ahead of the 2018-19 school year.
The union in November authorized its negotiation team to call for a strike if necessary. It also sought state-appointed mediation.
A mediator was appointed and a strike was avoided. Union membership is around 231 teachers.
School board finance committee chairman Steve Schlauch said the contract allows the district some stability in financial planning. Officials are working toward balancing a 2019-20 budget with no tax increase.
“It was a win for everyone,” Schlauch said. “Compared to the previous two contracts, this is a lot better for the district. It’s a sustainable contract.”
The contract is expected to be posted within the next week or two on the district’s website, www.pbsd.net.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, email@example.com or via Twitter .