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Parkland board approves 3-year contract with its support staff union

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - Parkland School Board Tuesday unanimously approved a new contract with the Parkland Education Support Professionals Association, which represents about 300 support staffers in Parkland School District.

Board members had no comments or questions before the vote. Nor did anyone from the public stand to speak about the new contract.

The union, which ratified the contract Monday, represents teaching assistants, hall monitors, bus drivers, para-professionals, custodial, maintenance, cafeteria, secretarial and other support staff in the school district.

"We believe this contract is a positive step for the 33 district job groups that we represent," said Brian Everett, PESPA president, in a prepared statement released at the school board meeting.

After the vote, board member Roberta Marcus said she appreciates the negotiating teams developing the three-year contract "for labor peace for the Parkland School District."

That was echoed by Superintendent Richard Sniscak, who said he looks forward to continued labor peace in Parkland.

It's a contract that began July 1 with a one-year pay freeze in the current 2013-14 school year. That follows a pay freeze district administrators took in 2011-12 and teachers and guidance counselors took in 2012-13.

Salaries for the support staff will increase by about 2.5 percent in both the second and third years of the contract, according to details released by the school district.

Medical benefits will remain frozen in the 2013-14 school year for all support staff. In 2014-15, those receiving PPO health benefits will begin paying $10 per bi-weekly pay for single coverage and $20 per pay for family coverage. In 2015-16, that will increase to $15 for single coverage and $30 for family coverage.

In previous years the support staff did not contribute toward health benefits, according to the district, which noted those contributions also mirror the teacher's union contract ratified a year ago.

Members enrolled in the Classic Blue Indemnity Plan will continue to pay $62 a month for single medical coverage and $224 a month for family coverage.

Anticipating contract approval, written statements from the board president and district superintendent also were released before the vote.

"I believe I speak for the Parkland community when I say I am extremely pleased that we have a new three-year contract with our support personnel, a valued part of our educational team," said board president Jayne Bartlett. "With this contract, we have a long-term collaborative commitment with all of our personnel."

"Both parties conducted themselves in a professional collaborative manner throughout these negotiations," said Sniscak. "The end result is a fair contract that is fiscally responsible, while rewarding our employees properly for their skills and dedication to the important and varied roles they play in school district operations."

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