Contracts, staff pay increase approved

JIM RUNKLE/THE EXPRESS Keystone Central School Board President James Knauff, right, shakes hands with chief negotiator for the Association of Clinton County Educators Tom Temple, after the two sides agreed to a four-year contract Thursday. The ACCE, representing approximately 360 teachers, ratified the contract yesterday.

MILL HALL — In four successive votes Thursday evening, the Keystone Central School Board finalized contract agreements with four groups for a period of four years.

Separate votes were taken on new contracts-bargaining agreements between the Keystone Central School board, its unionized teachers and support staff, along with instructional and non-instructional administrators.

According to Board President James Knauff, district-wide, the net cost to the district for the various new agreements amounted to $1,781,287 for all four years, for an estimated net cost of  $445,324 per year.

For the teachers, the maximum yearly pay increase was set at 2.9 percent, inclusive of  any step increase they might receive. The complicated formula still allows for step increases for experience and training, but appears to focus on the  possibility of  fading those types of compensation over time. Extracurricular employees like coaches will receive 2 percent compensation increases.

The net cost over four years for the teachers’ pact is $1.42 million, or $3,960 per teaching employee over those four years with a one-year, per-employee projected increase in compensation of $990.07.

Reimbursements for credits toward certification, drawn previously from a pool of $550,000, will be  reduced to $75,000 in the first and coming years for $300,000 in savings over the life of the contract, Knauff said.  Employees will have to pay up-front and ask for a reimbursement following completion, and must maintain a B average.

As  for  health insurance, the deductible amounts and co-pay will both go up for  teachers and others, although no specific numbers were provided.

A copy of the  contracts were also not provided. School board members begged off providing the documents  until they were examined and assessed by the  professionals.

As for the health benefits attached to retirements, the retirees are covered for 10 years in the first year of  the contract, but the time is reduced to eight years in the following three years.

Support staff will see pay raises of 5 percent in the first year and 2 percent each in the next three years. The  insurance agreement is similar to the teachers pact. The four-year cost for support personnel is $185,353, or $1,195.83 per employee for four years, or $298.96 per employee.

In early September, the board approved a four-year labor contract to June 30, 2020, with the secretarial association representing 32 secretaries. At the time, Knauff told The Express the contract includes what he called “minor changes” to the benefit package, including a four-year phase out of the HRA (health reimbursement account) contribution, employee deductible calculated as percentage of the COBRA cost and plan changes that increase the co-pay visit costs. He said both sides agreed to reduce the number of job classifications from six to two and cap the salary scale.

Teachers represented by the Association of Clinton County Educators (ACCE) met earlier in the day at the Central Mountain High School auditorium to take a contract ratification vote. President-elect Tom Temple, who was the ACCE’s chief negotiator, declined to break down the vote count, and instead said those who voted in favor of the new pact were victorious in the secret ballot.

Knauff also said that certain terms in the contract focus on the district’s ability to draw new teachers into the  fold by restructuring the start date from March to December, to allow the district a “heads up” in the retirement  rolls to determine which instructors need  replaced.

After a brief delay in the start of the school board’s “special voting meeting” at  6 p.m. in the high school library, the school board members voted unanimously for each of the four agreement, with the exception of Knauff, who declined to vote on the teachers’ pact, to avoid any appearance of a conflict  of interest (His spouse works as a teacher in the district).

The agreement between the ACCE, the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) and the National Education Association (NEA) runs for a term retroactive to this past July 1 and running through June 30, 2020.

Likewise, the board voted for a four-year contract with the Keystone Central Educational Support Professionals (KCESP), plus the PSEA and NEA.

The ACCE represents more than 350 educators in Keystone Central. The KCESP negotiates on behalf of roughly 146 support staff spread throughout the district. Both unions have been working without a contract since July 1.

The next two unanimous votes came in support of compensation plan agreements for the instructional administrators and non-instructional administrative personnel and both of those agreements also run until June 30, 2020.

Knauff said the agreements  represented a 3-percent increase in compensation per year, with a health package comparable to the one reached by teachers. The net, four-year cost for instructional personnel amounts to $103,089, or  $1,610 per employee per year.

For non-instructional personnel, the four-year net cost is $41,368 or  $1,880 per year per employee, for a one-year cost of $470.