DALLAS TWP. — Some faces have changed on the Dallas School Board, but the district’s stance on a teachers’ contract has not.
In an 8-1 vote Monday, a newly configured board confirmed its position on the Oct. 30 contract offer to teachers and supported the rejection of the union’s counteroffer Nov. 14.
The resolution was meant to unify new board members Susan K. Allen, Christine J. Swailes and Edward Dudick Jr. with the rest of the board as contract negotiations continue.
Sherri Newell, Kristin Pitarra, Patrick Musto, Gary Youngblood, Larry Schuler, Catherine Wega, Dudick and Swailes all supported the motion.
Allen voted no, due to a stipulation that required her to accept the resolution as it was written.
The motion stated, “a resolution be adopted to affirm the Dallas School District School Board’s Oct. 30, 2017, offer to the Dallas Education Association and reaffirm the negotiating committee’s rejection of the Dallas Education Association’s Nov. 14, 2017, counteroffer.”
“I agree with the first part of the resolution to affirm the offer — I think it is a fair offer and something that should be considered by the membership of the teachers’ union,” Allen said. “I would like the DEA to bring a matrix to the table and the financials that have been asked for.”
Allen had an issue with the second part of the resolution about reaffirming the counteroffer’s rejection.
“I have a problem voting on something the board already voted on,” she said.
Initially, Allen wanted to split her vote, but board member Musto said the vote could not be divided.
Allen then tried to abstain from the vote.
School attorney Vito DeLuca explained she did not have grounds to abstain, which resulted in her no vote.
The board’s Oct. 30 proposal was a comprehensive package that contained a salary matrix, sick-day reimbursement proposal, early retirement plan and health care options.
Dudick, Swailes and Allen, who replaced school board members James Gattuso Jr., Charles Preece and Jeff Thomas, agreed the district ius being more than fair with teachers.
“It was a very gracious offer,” Swailes said.
On Nov. 14, the union rejected the offer and presented the board with a one-page counter-proposal containing a few lines of content, Musto said as he held up a piece of paper.
Two weeks ago, Gattuso asked the union to provide a financial breakdown of its Nov. 14 offer and a detailed salary matrix.
To date, the board has not heard back from the union.
Last week, the school board did receive a list of potential negotiation dates from John Holland, the Pennsylvania State Education Association region field director.
District attorney DeLuca said he told Holland he would present dates when the board’s negotiation committee is reconstituted since former members no longer serve on the school board.
One of the main sticking points in the protracted contract battle has been health care. Dallas teachers do not pay for any part of their premiums, and they want to keep it that way.
Teachers have worked without a new contract since August 2015. Since then, they have gone on strike twice, and the union has set a new strike date for Jan. 22.