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Homer-Center teachers to work under old agreement

| Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010

Teachers in the Homer-Center School District have started working the 2010-11 school year without a new contract.

The collective bargaining agreement between the school district and the Homer-Center Education Association expired Aug. 31. The district and the association began negotiations on a new contract in January, but an agreement has not been reached.

At last Thursday's school board meeting, the district issued a press release signed by superintendent Vincent Delconte and HCEA president Jane Mastro said the teachers have agreed to work under the terms of the expired collective bargaining agreement while negotiations continue.

Two upcoming negotiating sessions are scheduled for Tuesday and Oct. 13.

Board president Vicki Smith declined to say if the district and the union were close on any issues.

"We're taking it as a whole," Smith said. "We're still negotiating."

District officials declined further comment on the progress of the negotiations.

The recently expired contract was actually originally set to end after the 2006-07 school year, but the district and the union agreed to a three-year extension to the deal in 2005. The extension provided instructors with an annual salary increase of about 3.5 percent, which was down from 4 percent in the original contract.

In other matters, the board voted to allow the Penns Manor Area School District to become an official member of the Indiana County Technology Center.

Penns Manor has already been sending students to the technology center, but as a non-member district had to pay a higher tuition fee and did not have a vote on ICTC matters.

The ICTC requires all current member districts to approve the addition of Penns Manor by a majority vote of the school board. Other member districts currently are Blairsville-Saltsburg, Indiana Area, Marion Center and United.

Penns Manor had considered sending its students to another technology center if it did not become a member.

Smith, who is the board's representative on the technology center's joint operating committee, said the technology center will benefit from having Penns Manor as a member.

"I?think it's a benefit for the educational program up there because it gets more students into the building," Smith said. "Penns Manor was considering taking their students to a different (technical) school, and I'm pleased they did not because I think, and they agree, the Indiana County Technology Center offers the better program."

The motion was approved by a 6-1 vote with Gerald Bertig opposing. Directors Joy Sasala and Ethan Sorbin were absent.

Bertig said his only opposition to the matter was that Penns Manor would pay its $955,434 share of the ICTC building ownership during a 20-year period without any interest.

"I just couldn't overcome being troubled by that, and I wasn't able to get a thorough explanation as to why that was determined to be reasonable," Bertig said. "It was a very difficult vote for me because I?want to make absolutely clear that I have high regard for the Penns Manor School District, and I'm very pleased to have them decide to join the vo-tech school."

Bertig was also the lone dissenting vote on a motion to approve 11 students field trips. Bertig said he made that vote because of financial concerns.

"I would say that I have confidence that our administration screens these, and I know that there's educational value in all of them," he said. "The question is, can we live without more of them because of our unsettled budget picture."

In other matters, the board also:

• Approved an agreement with Catapult Learning, LLC, for obtaining remedial reading instructional services through June 30, 2011, in accordance with the Title I reading program at a cost of $2,749.68.

• Hired Matthew Wilson and Nick Moore as coaches for the junior high boys' basketball team at the salaries of $2,126 each and approved Art Stokes, Shawn Steffee, Adam Kanouff, Michael Yount, Joseph Iezzi and Matthew Wilson as volunteers for the high school football team.

• Employed Lauren Delesky as the marching band master assistant for the 2010-11 school year at the supplemental salary of $2,316.

• Named Tracey Iandiorio as the high school musical choreographer at a salary of $376.

• Hired Pauline Barnosky, Teri Brown, Elizabeth Gallo, Paula Hurd, Brenda Rager and Mindy Shirley as part-time cafeteria workers at a salary of $9.31 per hour; Leisa Ober was moved from part-time to full-time.

• Employed Betty J. Kwisnek as a student aide/medical support aide at a starting salary of $10.75 per hour.

• Granted a number of employee conference requests including Anita Smith to attend the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference in Baltimore Oct. 14-15 at a cost to the district of $500 plus one substitute for two days.

• Approved a leave of absence for Elizabeth Woods effective Oct. 1 for six weeks.

• Granted a request from tax collector Thomas B. Citeroni for reimbursement of $373.79 to attend the annual Tax Collector Convention in Gettysburg Oct. 22-24.

• Announced that the Homer-Center Fund for the Academics, Athletics and Performing Arts Grant was awarded to teachers Mark Pangonis and Karen Woods for a recumbent classic bicycle to be used for physical education classes and by athletes in grades 7-12 in the amount of $2,910.

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