Now that the Moon Area School Board has rejected the third party arbitrator's proposal for a new contract, the teachers might go on strike for the second time this school year. The teachers struck from November 8 to 29th but then inn a non-traditional move, the two sides brought in Mark Winters as a neutral third party to try to resolve the dispute rather than going to a state-appointed arbitrator.
Butch Santicola, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, says a second strike is an option, but not their only option.
"We are extremely disappointed and upset that the board rejected this arbitration decision. They requested a third party, the third party came in, listened to all the evidence, and it was rejected. We were actually not ready for that. We thought the board would readily embrace this decision, but they did not, and now we have to evaluate where we go next."
Although the union wants to completely renegotiate, John Cambest, solicitor for the Moon Area School District says that they can use the arbitrator's proposal as a draft.
"We never try to start from scratch. We've obviously arrived at certain points during the negotiation process as part of our agreement to enter into the voluntary non binding arbitration. We did agree that if we involve ourselves in any future dispute resolution procedures that we can use Mr. Winter's recommendation as an option."
The two parties did agree on having 15 minutes added on to the end of the school day. Santicola says that the teachers want to use that time for tutoring, parent conferences, and planning. Cambest says that they want to use that additional time for professional development for the employees.
Cambest notes that along with that issue, teachers' salaries and health care contributions are still the major points that need to be resolved.
Cambest says that they have asked the union to submit some new dates so that they can begin negotiating again, and Santicola says they need help from the community to put pressure on the school board.