Sharon teachers disappointed after another contract deal rejected

SHARON, Pa. (WYTV) – After over two years of negotiations and working nearly a year without a contract, the Sharon Board of Education rejected another plan with the teachers union.

The state brought in a third party fact finder to mediate the negotiations. The fact finder had three options — side with the teachers union, side with the school board, or come up with a third option both sides would have to agree to.

In the end, it chose to come up with a third option. But Monday night, the school board said for a second time it won’t accept the terms.

Over 100 people packed into the small room where the board of education meets. Almost all were there to urge board members to approve the fact finder’s deal between the teachers and the board.

One said the biggest threat to a “well-rounded education” for Sharon students was the board.

The issue of teacher’s salaries was discussed, angering many in the room who were upset the teachers hadn’t been given a raise. They believe teachers should be compensated in a way comparable to other schools in the area.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association said one of its biggest concerns is the surplus in the budget held by the Sharon School District. The school’s reserve fund has about $11 million in it. About $2.5 million of that is in cash, while the other $8.5 million is tied up in things like buildings and equipment, according to the board.

“That’s a lot of money to me, that’s a lot of money to you. For the school district, we spend $2.5 million a month, $600,000 a week,” said Board President Melvin Bandzak.

Other issues discussed included more prep time for the elementary school teachers as well as hiring a full-time physical education teacher. Many parents there wanted to use the money in the fund to hire new teachers.

In the end, the board voted 5 to 4 to reject the fact finder’s report. Melvin Bandzak, Daniel Gill, David Grande, Brenda Kepple, and Pamela Corini all voted against it while Richard Mancino, Susan Torr, Tony Molinari, and Judy Rogers voted to approve it.

It’s now back to negotiations for the teachers, many of whom said they’re extremely disappointed.

The teacher’s union also passed a strike authorization on Monday. So far, there will be no strike and negotiations will continue.