Pacts outline pay for employees
MILL HALL — Five different labor contracts were approved late last year between the Keystone Central School Board and unionized or Act 93 school district employees.
The net additional cost to the district and taxpayers for the various new agreements amounts to $1,781,287 for all four years of the contracts, for an estimated net cost of $445,324 per year, board President James Knauff told The Express following a recent lengthy review and discussion of the contracts for this story.
The contracts or agreements are retroactive to this past July 1 and run until June 30, 2020 and include:
r The Association of Clinton County Educators (ACCE) representing approximately 356 teachers.
r The Keystone Central Educational Support Professionals (KCESP) representing 146 support staff.
r The Clinton County Education Secretarial Professionals Association (CCESPA) representing 32 secretaries district-wide.
r Instructional administrators that includes principals and assistant principals, among others.
r Non-instructional administrators that includes various supervisors, security officers and cafeteria managers.
The lead negotiator for the school board was Carl P. Beard of Andrews & Beard Law Offices, Altoona, who was paid $130 per hour. The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) assisted teachers with negotiations. The administration was not directly involved with negotiations. The school board’s Personnel Committee comprised of chairman Albert Jones, Knauff, Jeff Johnston, Charles Rosamilia and Greg Strouse were responsible for negotiations, though Knauff recused himself due to family working in the district.
The contracts cover an array of issues, notably annual salaries, annual and step pay increases, pensions, health-care insurance, vacation and sick time, work hours, work language and more.
The new labor agreements come after the board, in a split 5-4 vote last spring, adopted a $76.65 million budget for this school year that came along with a property tax increase, the creation of 20 new positions and two new programs. The tax hike amounted to 2.87 percent for Clinton County property owners, 1.27 percent more for those in Centre, and 3.2 percent more for those in southern Potter County.
The board and teachers declined any comment on negotiations starting early last year. It was only after The Express wrote an editorial saying taxpayers deserved an update on talks that the brief statements were offered just prior to the contracts expiring last June, saying negotiations were continuing. After the pacts were ratififed by teachers and the board in early December, the district said it had to finalize all of the figures and language in all of the pacts before they would be released.
Under separate employment contracts are Superintendent Kelly Hastings, Business Manager Susan Blesh and Human Resources Director Che Regina.
An in-depth look at the compensation provisions within the new contracts reveal the following:
Basic teacher salaries are established in four spreadsheets that include 17 “steps” listing the compensation for each of the four years of the contract, reflecting longevity of service and level of education from bachelor’s degree to doctorate. (Only two educators currently hold doctorates.)
r The first year through fourth year of the contract reflects an across-the-board increase of 2.9 percent of the base salary for each of the four years of the contract, including the step increments.
r The first year of the contract sets the lowest teacher compensation at $45,404, and the highest compensation at $90,943; second year, lowest at $46,202 and highest at $91,741; third year, lowest at $46,992 and highest at $92,531; and fourth year, lowest at $48,034 and $93,573, highest.
r For the first time this year, the Act 93 instructional and non-instructional administrative staff were both placed on a step-salary schedule, according to Knauff.
r For the teachers, the maximum yearly cost-of-living pay increase was set at 2.9 percent, but that does not include any additional step increase they might receive. That complicated formula still allows for step increases for experience and training, but the new agreement appears to offer the possibility of fading those types of pay raises over time. Extracurricular employees like coaches will receive 2 percent compensation increases.
r 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.
r For the secretarial staff, the salary schedule is broken into 20 steps in two classification and two hourly rates. The lowest compensation is set at $22,968 and $25,899 respectively or $12.62 and $14.23 hourly respectively for the first contract year.
In early September, the board approved a four-year labor contract to June 30, 2020, with the secretarial association representing 32 secretaries. 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.
In the last contract year, the lowest secretarial compensation grows to $23,722 and $26,749, or $13.03 and $14.70 hourly. The highest level of yearly secretarial compensation in the last year of the contract is $38,968.
r For support personnel, employees on active payroll status receive a salary increase of 5 percent in the first year and two percent in each of the next three years. Starting hourly salaries were set at $11.60 for building assistant, $12.15 for head cook, $14 for maintenance or groundskeeper, $15.93 for teacher assistant, $17.50 for LPN and $30,000 a year for occupational therapists.
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.
r For teaching staff, reimbursements for credits toward certification, drawn previously from a pool of $550,000, will be reduced to $475,000 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.
r Outside the teaching staff, all full-time employees and part-time employees who work 25 hours or more per week are eligible to received lump-sum retirement pay after 10 or more years of service. The rate is $30 per year for up to 24 years, $1,200 after 25 years, $1,400 for 30 years and $1,800 for 35 years or more.
In the instructional administrative category, which also runs until June 30, 2020, a salary matrix is also used rather than the yearly percentage basis used for teachers, with a yearly break down in the salaries of assistant principals, principals and directors.
The 20-step, four-year package in the instructional administrative agreement goes from a low of $82,000, $87,000 and $92,000 respectively in 2016-2017 for assistant principal, principal and director, to $84,486, $89,636 and $94,788 for those same position at the same beginning levels.
At the highest stage — step 20 — those same positions pay $114,810, $121,810 and $128,810, respectively.
Knauff said the agreements represent a 3-percent increase in compensation per year, with a health package comparable to the one reached with teachers. The net, four-year additional cost for instructional personnel amounts to $103,089, or $1,610 per employee per year.
By comparison, Superintendent Hastings receives a yearly salary in the neighborhood of $161,000, which school board members say is less than the salaries paid in comparable or nearby school districts.
The agreement provides for a 3-percent increase in compensation per year, with a health package comparable to the one reached with teachers. In the area of non-instructional administrative staff, there are also 20 steps, two hourly wages and five yearly salaries in the spreadsheet, which also includes 22 job titles as descriptions attached to those salary levels.
The attached “salary matrix” appears to cover all four years. It lists hourly wages from a low of $15.50 in the first step to $28.93 for step 20, and yearly salaries ranging from $32,500 for cafeteria managers to $87,675 at the top step 20. In between that range are the fiscal operations supervisors, property services supervisor, fund-raising coordinator, food services supervisor, technology and networks, security and transportation.
For non-instructional personnel, the four-year, additional net cost is $41,368 or $1,880 more per year per employee, for a one-year cost of $470. according to Human Resources Director Che Regina.
District officials said no performance bonuses were given and the matrix was an attempt to standardize the compensation for administrative levels.
A second, third and fourth set of compensation schedules establish pay for related duties, like assistant and head varsity coaches, and every athletic post from ticket seller to locker room supervisor. In all of these categories, the duties reflect pay increases of 2 percent each of the four years.
A football, wrestling, soccer or basketball varsity head coach, for example goes from $5,784 in the first year to $6,138 in the last year with head coaches of baseball, golf, softball, swimming and tennis receiving lesser amounts and assistant coaches and game managers receiving yet smaller amounts.
Finally, the compensation schedules also cover co-curricular activities like band, band front, chorus, drama, percussion, yearbook supervisor, club advisor, class advisor, and cheerleading, along with leaders of support programs like summer school instruction and chaperones.
The highest yearly compensation goes to Central Mountain High School Band director, who starts at $6,306 in the first year and increases to $6,692 in the fourth year.
At Bucktail, with its smaller school population, the band compensation starts at $1,716 and goes to $1,882 in year four. Advisors collectively go from a range of $619 in year one to $657 in year four for club advisors; and a high of $1,912 to a low of $1,335 in the first year for yearbook advisor.
District supervisors in communications, math, computer applications, social studies, science and environmental education, also receive the 2 percent compensation, from $2,968 in year one to $3,149 in year four.
For the first time in district history, a district wide cap has been placed on educational credits.
The total dollar limit for the bargaining unit is set at $475,000 for each of the four years, and individuals must pre-pay for the credits to have “skin in the game,” before being compensated by the district for successful completion of course work.
Employees who are required to earn 24 more credits for the next stage of education will be prepaid by the district, but prepaid credits must be earned at Penn State University or one of the 14 state-run schools, including Lock Haven University. This will be paid at l00 percent tuition reimbursement actual cost up to the Penn State rate. Second-stage employees may be reimbursed for 24 credits, if enrolled in an approved program. Non-degree credits are limited to12 credits per year. Professionals on sabbatical leaves may continue to take 18 credits per school year.