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Standoff halts Saucon Valley teacher negotiations

By Cristiano Lima, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Feb 25 2014 10:25:42 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 26 2014 07:28:27 AM CST
Saucon Valley school district meeting
SAUCON VALLEY, Pa. -

The Saucon Valley school board announced Tuesday that they have no further negotiations scheduled with the teachers' union following the group’s third rejection of a tentative contract Monday night.

“We’ve been at this for two years,” said district treasurer Edward Inghrim at Tuesday’s board meeting. “Right now there are no meetings scheduled.”

The recommended agreement, put forth by a third party fact finder at the union’s request, has been repeatedly approved by the board but has yet to satisfy teachers’ requests.

According to union president Theresa Andreucci, the group feels that it has made numerous concessions but an adequate compromise has yet to be reached.

“Member after member has been perplexed by the lack of support for their professional development,” she said. “Member after member could not understand how the retirement incentive…would now be rescinded [for numerous members].”

The union’s main grievances are the limits placed on graduate study, the changes made to the salary schedule and the changes made to healthcare packages.

“Those are the big ticket items,” said Andreucci.

The board, however, maintains that it made significant compromises on those items in order to further negotiations.

The salary increases currently proposed by the board stand at 1.9% for the 2013-14 school year and rise to 2.2% the following year, slightly above the Pennsylvania Act 1 Index, the state’s standard for calculating raises.

Tuition reimbursements though, which have historically ranged from $3,000 to $3,500, have seen a drop to $2,400 in the latest proposal. This figure, however, remains higher than the $2,000 recommended by the fact finder’s report.

“We believe that the taxpayers needed to get more value for their money in terms of continuing education,” said Inghrim.

In response to claims of sufficient compromise by the board, Andreaucci placed the fact finder’s recommendations and the proposed teacher agreement side by side, with the latter having undergone demonstrable reduction.

“This is representative of concession, not compromise,” said Andreucci. “That’s not fair.”

The teacher’s union will now undergo a reorganizational period before reentering talks with the school board.

“We’re in the process of starting a new negotiations team,” she said.

Neither side has a set timetable for reopening discussions. The Saucon Valley school teachers for now will continue to operate under their expired contract from 2012.