JS responds to arbitrator ruling on furloughs

By MIKE REUTHER

For The Express

JERSEY SHORE — A ruling by an arbitrator ordering the Jersey Shore Area School District to offer furloughed teachers their positions back is being reviewed by the school board, according to the district’s top administrator.

“This case is still ongoing,” Superintendent Jill Wenrich said.

The 11 teachers furloughed by the board in May 2018 must be offered their positions back within 30 days, according to the ruling issued by John C. Alfano, a Scranton-based arbitrator.

The ruling was in response to the the Jersey Shore Education Association grievance it filed against the district.

Wenrich had little to comment about the case Thursday in a phone call with the Sun-Gazette.

However, she briefly offered her perspective.

“Five teachers were furloughed,” Wenrich said. “Four of them are currently working with the district.”

She also noted that six of the 11 teachers furloughed are non-renewals or non-tenured.

The furloughs reportedly saved the district $500,000.

In ruling in favor of the teachers’ association, Alfano noted that the district violated Pennsylvania School Code in citing declining enrollment as the reason for furloughs.

Alfano ruled that the furloughs and non-renewals were clearly made because of economic reasons. He cited board discussions and emails that indicated the furloughs were an option to deal with the district’s budget.

Pennsylvania School Code requires school boards to adopt a “resolution of intent” to furlough professional employees citing economic conditions at least 30 days prior to adoption of the district budget.

The district missed the April 30, 2018 deadline to adopt the resolution, attempting instead to base the furloughs on declining enrollment.

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