State College

State College Area School District, support staff at odds over contract

The State College Area School District and its Educational Support Personnel Association have not reached a contract agreement, according to a news release from state Labor Relations Board Secretary Larry Cheskawich.

The Labor Relations Board on Thursday released a fact-finder’s report on contract negotiations between the district and the union, which represents the district’s secretaries and paraprofessionals.

School board members unanimously accepted the recommendations made by fact-finder Debra Wallet, but the union rejected it. Jane Brubaker, a UniServ representative for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, declined to say why the fact-finder’s recommendations were rejected.

“I will tell you that in order to accept the fact-finder’s recommendations, you have to agree with the recommendations in full and accept it in its entirety,” Brubaker said.

School board President Penni Fishbaine said she thought the recommendations were fair and said Wallet’s ruling on health care benefits could be seen as an example.

Among Wallet’s recommendations was that the current economy warranted an increase in monthly premium contributions from employees, but that the increase should be at a more modest rate than what the school district proposed.

Fishbaine said employees who opt for health insurance should pay more as health insurance costs continue to rise.

“We feel it’s fair that those employees pay more toward health care costs, because taxpayers shouldn’t have to shoulder so much of it,” Fishbaine said. “I think the fact-finder came down pretty much on the middle of everything, and it would have been about halfway for what the school district and SCESPA wanted.”

Fishbaine said the board would vote and likely accept the fact-finder’s report again on Oct. 13.

She said the association will then vote to accept or reject the recommendations.

If the union approves the recommendations, the school district’s solicitor will draft a collective bargaining agreement. If it is rejected, the two sides will resume negotiations.