Teachers and other faculty (top) await the approval and signing of a new three-year teachers contract that was approved by the Wyalusing Area School Board on Monday evening, well ahead of schedule. WAEA president Kevin Deibert (above, left) and school board president Chad Salsman seal the deal with a handshake.
Story and Photos by Rick Hiduk
(As published in the Jan. 11 edition of the Rocket-Courier)
The Wyalusing Area School Board (WASB) met before an audience of well over 100 students, faculty and others in attendance on Monday evening. Among a number important agenda items covered in the relatively brief meeting was the approval by both the board and the Wyalusing Area Education Association (WAEA) of an ‘Early Bird’ contract to cover the next three years.
Historical six- to eight-month battles between the board and faculty over wages, pension and health care in previous years are briefly mentioned in a press release, which notes that discussions and negotiations between the two parties started prior to the formal timeline of January 2018.
According to the release, teachers have agreed to cover more of their own healthcare costs, equaling seven percent annually for non-single insurance coverage and 10 percent for single health care insurance. Salary gains will be “comparable to increases the teachers have received over the past few years.”
WAEA president Kevin Deibert and WASB president Chad Salsman signed the agreement to a round of applause from those on both ends of the room. In a statement posted shortly their after on WAEA’s Facebook page, the board was thanks for their “commitment to students, staff, and the community they serve.”
“The goal of the association was to ratify an even-handed and fair contract,” Deibert said afterward. “The contract needed to work for the school board, the tax payers and the teachers in the district. I believe that we met our goal.”
In the press release, Salsman notes that “reaching an early agreement helps keep our educators focused on students and learning…and greatly reduces the additional legal and negotiation costs often incurred during typical contract negotiation timelines.”
Similarly, school district superintendent Jason Bottiglieri praised both parties. Noting that the board and the teachers “compromised on items and also accomplished contract language changes that are beneficial to the continued success of the district as a whole.”
FBLA Headed to States
Future Business Leaders of America members and advisers Kay Doerner and Karen Potter were in attendance to share their recent experiences in Harrisburg where they developed business models and promotional plans as part of district level competition.
State qualifiers include Riley God, Hanah Chamberlin, Emily Lewis, Mackenzie Tewksbury, Lylah Oswald, Morgan Rockwell, Drew Girven, Jon Morrison, Dawcin Jones, Cody Newland, Ashlee Newton, Morgan Woodruff, Ellie Pisula, Bailey Ruhf, Maggie Poost, Rachel Johnson, AJ Rhodes, Kasar Cameron, Sierra Finnerty, and Brandon Drake.
Emily described the district competition as a “great opportunity to share experiences from other high schools” and to compete against people she didn’t know. Kasar complimented the advisers, saying “They’ll do anything to help you achieve your goal.”
Ski Trip Planned
The board approved the participation of up to 10 students on a ski trip to Stowe Mountain resort in Vermont. Deibert has coordinated the opportunity in conjunction with the Tunkhannock and Lacakwanna Trail school districts. Bottiglieri noted that there will be limited expense to the school district beyond a small stipend for Deibert and the cost of a substitute to cover his classes from Feb. 7 to 9. The students will cover their own costs for the trip
Bottiglieri noted that Wyalusing students were more active in snow skiing in the past, and he is hopeful that the upcoming trip will renew that interest and perhaps result in the return of the Ski Club. Several board members fondly recalled their ski trips as students in the district.
The board acknowledged the receipt of nearly $30,000 in donations to the school district this year, including $28,802 in Teacher Venture Grants through the Wyalusing Education Foundation. In December, the Kellogg Mountains Rod & Gun Club and American Legion Post 510 contributed $500 and $150, respectively, toward the cost of the planned trip by fifth graders to Philadelphia.
Preliminary Budget Approved
A very preliminary budget was approved by the board, marking the beginning of the tedious process of confirming both costs and anticipated revenue. At $24,073,686, expenses for the 2018-19 school year are expected to be about 3.05 percent ($813,134) higher than this year. Bottiglieri described it is an ever-evolving document at this point.
FBLA members (from left) AJ Rhodes, Sierra Finnerty and Kesar Cameron share what they learned from their district competition in Harrisburg recently.