Carlisle High School

Carlisle High School

Sentinel file

Negotiations between the Carlisle Area School Board and the local teachers union are expected to continue beyond Monday when the current labor contract expires.

The school board may vote Thursday on a motion acknowledging that existing contract terms will continue status quo until an agreement is ratified or until good faith collective bargaining results in an impasse.

Representatives have met four times since formal talks started in May between the board negotiations committee and the Carlisle Area Education Association, Superintendent John Friend said. A fifth meeting is scheduled for this coming week.

“They are going along,” Friend said. “It is very early. We are working toward a conclusion.” Meanwhile, the 375 members of collective bargaining unit will continue to be paid the same salary rate as the 2015-2016 year.

“Carlisle Area School District intends to fulfill its obligations to maintain the status quo accordingly,” the proposed motion reads. “The board further resolves that for the period of status quo bargaining unit employees will continue to receive their salary and benefits ... in effect as of the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement.”

Status quo also means new teacher hires for 2016-2017 will be placed on the salary scale for 2015-2016, Friend said. He would not speculate on how soon a new contract could be resolved and ratified.

The most recent agreement is actually a one-year contract extension school board members approved on Jan. 15, 2015. That extension included a 2.4 percent salary increase for the 2015-2016 year and pushed the expiration date from Aug. 15, 2015 to Aug. 16, 2016.

The board voted in favor of the extension over the objections of Kevin Wagner, program chairman of the social studies department and a taxpayer in the district.

Wagner was concerned about the negative perception the public may have toward teachers, noting the salary hike approved for 2015-2016 equated to an average increase of $1,344 per teacher per year. He added that increase came on the heels of a 2.25 percent salary increase the board had approved for 2014-2015.

Chances are the average taxpayer is not going to remember the couple years in a row CAEA members decided not to accept salary hikes specified under a previous contract, Wagner said. He added the salary hikes arrive at a time when the district faced a budget shortfall along with prospect of staffing changes.

At the time of the January 2015 vote, Nancy Fishman was school board president. She said while the concerns aired by Wagner are valid, the consensus among board members during executive sessions was there needed to be a balance between the burden placed on taxpayers and the ability of the district to recruit and retain top quality talent for the classrooms.

Fishman resigned from the board on Nov. 19 due to a new job in Washington D.C. In early December, Paula Bussard was named the new president while Rick Coplen was selected to fill the seat left vacant when Fishman left the board.

Bussard is on the negotiations committee along with Fred Baldwin and Gerald Eby.

Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com

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News Reporter

History and education reporter for The Sentinel.

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