PERKIOMEN - The Perkiomen Valley School District and the union representing district teachers have reached a tentative contract agreement, the school board announced Tuesday afternoon.

'The Perkiomen Valley School Board is pleased to announce that it has reached a tentative agreement with the Perkiomen Valley Education Association (PVEA),' states a press release issued by the board. 'Once ratified by both parties, it will become the new contract for members of the district's teachers' union.'

Terms of the agreement are not currently being disclosed. They are scheduled to be 'shared' at the school board's Sept. 8 meeting.

A ratification vote is scheduled for Sept. 5 among the Perkiomen Valley Education Association's membership - two days after the terms of the agreement will be related to them.

'We are pleased to have a tentative agreement with the school district,' said Bill McGill, president of the teachers' union, according to the release. 'Having an agreement will allow the teachers in the Perkiomen Valley School District to maintain our focus on the high quality education we provide for our students. We will start the school year on a positive note.'

After the teachers' ratification vote, the school board will vote on the contract.

The teachers' contract expired at the end of last August and teachers worked under the status quo for the 2013-14 school year.

A state mediator's proposal from May revealed some of the sticking points in negotiations between the district and the union.

Among those, the health care plan in the contract was one of the main points.

The mediator proposed a contract expiring after the 2016-17 school year and for teachers to pay 16 percent of the premium share of a 20/30/70 plan until July 1, 2016, when it would increase to 17 percent.

Salary was apparently another point of dispute in negotiations. The mediator proposed a salary freeze for the last school year and 2014-15, with a one column salary movement in 2015-16 and 2016-17. In the proposal, teachers at the top of the scale would receive one-time $1,000 bonuses.

Although the mediator's proposal for a contract ran until 2016-17, it's unclear how long the tentative agreement would run.

The school board approved the mediator proposal but the teachers' union rejected it, continuing negotiations.

The agreement came in a 'formal negotiation session' held Aug. 12, the district release said, 'after 20 months of negotiations.'

'We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with our teachers before the new school year begins,' said Perkiomen Valley School Board President Ann Mantey in the release. 'Having a contract in place means a positive start this fall for our entire community. It will also enable the board to place its focus squarely on the issues and challenges that are expected to be a part of the next year's budget process.'

'We look forward to continuing to work with our teachers to make our district an outstanding place to learn, live and work,' she concluded.

Additionally, a tentative agreement was reportedly reached on a contract for the Perkiomen Valley Maintenance, Custodial and Food Service Association.

No details were released on that agreement.

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno

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