Teachers’ union rejects pay freeze

Public hearing set Monday on Dickey Elementary closing

By SARAH PAEZ

spaez@lockhaven.com

MILL HALL — Executive members of the Association of Clinton County Educators announced Tuesday that they will not be agreeing to a pay freeze or reduction in coaching salaries.

The Keystone Central School Board had hoped members of the teachers’ union would agree to a two-year pay freeze and a 25 percent reduction in athletic coaching salaries as a stop-gap measure to close the district’s $7 million budget deficit.

ACCE President Tom Temple notified members of the union of the leadership’s decision in an email Tuesday morning.

“Under ACCE bylaws the council is tasked with looking out for what is best for the membership as a whole. We understand this may, in time, affect some negatively,” he wrote. “However, please understand this is a difficult situation that none of us were asked to be placed in and it is our feeling that we made the best decision we could given our current circumstance.”

Temple wrote that the ACCE’s executive council voted to not open the current contract, negotiated in 2016, which includes a 3 percent pay raise for district teachers every year. The contract is set to run until June 30, 2020.

As of last year, the ACCE represented approximately 350 teachers.

Temple did not respond to requests for a follow-up comment by phone or email Tuesday.

Board President Charles Rosamilia said Tuesday afternoon that he had not seen the memo on the decision yet and would like to see it before making an official comment.

He said if the news is true, “it’s disappointing to us (the board) for sure.”

KCSD Communications Director Angela Harding sent out a statement Tuesday on the pay freeze.

“Keystone Central School District Administration was taken by surprise today when the news was announced by union leadership that they will not take a pay freeze in light of the current budget challenge,” the statement reads. “Substitute Superintendent, Dr. Allan Lonoconus has not had the opportunity to meet with or speak to union membership since assuming his role mid week, last week. Dr. Lonoconus is still looking forward to working with the union through the budget process and hopes that their leadership is open to having further discussion. The goal is that all parties involved can reach a consensus that will not only meet budget concerns but continue to provide the highest level of education to the students of Keystone Central School District.”

Some of the other options to reduce expenses from the $75 million budget are closing Dickey Elementary School to cut 18 positions, combining elementary classrooms to cut 22 teaching jobs and reducing secondary elective options to cut eight jobs.

A public hearing to discuss the closing of Dickey Elementary is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 at 8:15 p.m. in the Central Mountain High School auditorium.

Per Section 780 of the Public School Code of 1949, which the public notice from KCSD mentions, the board must hold a public hearing “in the event of a permanent closing of a public school or substantially all of a school’s facilities…not less than three (3) months prior to the decision of the board related to the closing of the school.”

The section also says notice of the hearing must be given in a newspaper of general circulation in the school district at least 15 days prior to the date of the hearing.

This notice was given to The Express Feb. 6 for publication Feb. 7.

KCSD Business Manager Susan Blesh said the notice of the public hearing was recommended by the district’s solicitor to follow the protocol of the consideration of closing a public school.

At the hearing Monday, the board will receive and consider comments from the public on the question of whether Dickey Elementary should be permanently closed and whether to explore other options.

Blesh confirmed there will be other meetings to discuss the future of Dickey Elementary.

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