Spring-Ford, teachers to go to fact-finding over contract

Spring-Ford Area School District/Spring-Ford Education Association negotiations

LIMERICK — With the latest round of contract negotiations again ending in a stalemate, a state fact-finder will be brought in to try to help determine a contract for Spring-Ford Area School District teachers.

In a Spring-Ford Area School Board meeting Monday night, board member Bernard Pettit, a member of the district’s negotiating team, announced that the latest contract proposal put forth by the district was rejected.

Maria Kardick, president of the Spring-Ford Education Association, told 21st Century Media that the proposal, which Pettit last week qualified as “informal,” was rejected by the union’s negotiating team. A counter-proposal was then brought to the district, but that was also rejected.

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“What we said was, ‘This is our final offer,’” board Vice President Tom DiBello said after the meeting Monday night. “They countered with a list of things they wanted.”

DiBello, who also serves on the district’s negotiating committee, said details of the proposals could not be released.

Nearly 20 in the audience at Monday’s meeting were sporting Spring-Ford Education Association’s Carolina blue T-shirts.

Pettit announced that negotiations will now go to fact-finding.

A state-appointed fact-finder will hear testimony from both sides on a new contract then put forth their own proposal based on the information gathered.

Each side will have to vote whether to accept or refuse the fact-finder’s report.

If both sides accept the report from the fact-finder, that will serve as the basis for the new contract between Spring-Ford and its teachers.

If both sides reject the report, they must each vote a second time.

Information on the report will not become available until both sides have voted on it.

Pettit believes the report won’t be produced until September, at the earliest.

Both sides were “hopeful” for a contract resolution after “informal” negotiations earlier this summer.

Teacher contract negotiations in Spring-Ford have continued since at least January 2013. The union’s contract expired at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.

In 2012, the Phoenixville Area School Board decided to go to fact-finding. Although they rejected it in their first vote, the board approved the report in a split vote the second time around. The teachers’ union rejected it in its second vote.

It wasn’t until about 10 months later, roughly four months after a state mediator was called in, that their years-long contract dispute with the teachers’ union was settled.

Perkiomen Valley School District’s teachers are without a contract currently, but a tentative agreement reached last week is slated to be voted on by all sides next week. Their agreement came not long after a state mediator issued a proposal.

For a full recap of Monday night’s meeting, check here.

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno