The Phoenix Reporter & Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Phoenixville School District, teachers' union continue negotiations


By Frank Otto, fotto@21st-CenturyMedia.com

Monday, June 17, 2013

PHOENIXVILLE — Negotiations between the Phoenixville Area School District and its teachers’ union continue as the third anniversary of the expiration of the last contract passes.
For the first time officially at the bargaining table by the two sides on June 7, the school district offered the Phoenixville Area Education Association, the teachers’ union, the terms of last fall’s fact finders’ report.
Speaking after the school board workshop Thursday night, school board President Joshua Gould said the offer included the fact finders’ report with certain terms modified.
“I want to say thank you to the board for their offer,” said union co-president Catherine Renzulli. “Although no agreement was reached, both sides acknowledged we have moved.”
Renzulli said she looked forward to meeting again Friday, when another meeting was scheduled.
Adding on to her comments, Renzulli criticized the board for contracting Magic Memories, an outside education provider, to serve as enrichment coaches in the full-day kindergarten, accusing the school district of moving some teachers out of the building classrooms and into modular classrooms in favor of the Magic Memories “enrichment coaches.”
In response to Renzulli’s charge that Magic Memories teachers were not certified, Gould said the Magic Memories enrichment coaches are, in fact, jelling with statements from Superintendent Alan Fegley in the past.
“We ask that you show support and professional consideration on behalf of all of your good, hard-working and loyal teachers, counselors, school psychologists and nurses,” Renzulli said. “We’re your teachers, counselors, school psychologists and nurses. Please treat us as your own.”
Tammy Kurtz, co-president of the union with Renzulli, also spoke, urging both sides to “look at, in a more creative way, solving the final issues that are still on the table.”
She said that over the three and a half years of negotiations, the sides have met for negotiation more than 50 times.
A sticking point in negotiations is health coverage offered by the district in regard to an employee’s spouse, according to information on the district website and sources.
The district’s last position was for a spouse to take health care from their own job, if it’s offered. Additionally, the difference in cost between the spouse’s coverage from their employment and the district coverage would be covered by the district, according to Gould after an April school board meeting.
In their last position, the union wished to move forward with the status quo and full spousal coverage by the district plan.
“Our relationships in negotiations that have gone for three and a half years have remained remarkable good,” Gould said, echoing a statement from Renzulli.