Lehigh Valley

Saucon Valley school board rejects teachers' contract proposal

HELLERTOWN, Pa. - Negotiations will continue between the Saucon Valley School board and its teachers' union after the board rejected a proposal Monday.

According to the school district, members of the school board met with the newly formed bargaining team for the Saucon Valley Education Association on Monday and SVEA's attorney Andrew Muir.

An independent fact finder, Rochelle Kaplan, put together a recommendation for the groups back in October, which was requested by the SVEA.

The SVEA presented a one-page proposal to the district, which ignores Kaplan's recommendations.

The proposal includes:

1. Retroactive salary increases to July 1, 2012, even if the employee is already retired or left district employment.

2. Retroactive co-curricular increases to July 1, 2012, even if the coach retired or left district employment.

3. Retroactive increases to the Induction Program ($50 in year 1, $100 in year 2, and $50 each year thereafter).

4. Rewrite of the tuition provision to give the union more authority in determining the approval for education course reimbursement and horizontal movement on the salary schedule.

5. The Union President wants to be relieved of all of her teaching duties and to be paid by the district taxpayers to perform her union responsibilities.

6. The Union wants to expand the existing retirement incentive to provide for healthcare benefits until Medicare eligibility.

7. No changes in healthcare plans or employee contributions to premiums.

The school board rejected the proposal, which will be reviewed publicly at its meeting on May 27.

Muir issued a statement in response to the rejection:

"This afternoon the Saucon Valley teachers' bargaining team presented an affordable proposal to school board representatives that among other things is designed to catch up and surpass salaries paid to teachers in the Bangor School District."

Muir stated, "after closely comparing contracts in the Lehigh Valley, we discovered that a teacher with a master's degree in Saucon Valley is the lowest paid teacher in the Lehigh Valley. As Saucon Valley is the premier district in the region, we must take steps to pay teachers appropriately."

"Saucon Valley teachers are united and look forward to continue to negotiate until a new agreement is reached. The Association encourages the school board to negotiate with an open mind so that the parties can move forward together", said Muir.

The Saucon Valley Education Association represents 187 teaching professionals employed by the Saucon Valley School District.

Saucon Valley teachers have been working under an expired contract since June 30, 2012.

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