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Regular meeting of the Board of School Directors - Oct. 12, 2015


Oct. 12, 2015


Chris Rosenblum

SCASD Director of Communications


SCASD Board of Directors Approves 5-Year SCAEA Contract

   On Monday, Oct. 12, the State College Area School District Board of Directors approved a new 5-year collective bargaining unit contract with the State College Area Education Association, which represents district teachers
   The vote was 8-1, with board member Jim Pawelczyk the lone dissenter.
   The Association’s membership also voted on Oct. 12 to approve the contract. The contract between the Board and the Association representing the District’s teachers covers a term beginning July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2020.
   “Happy to move forward,” board member Dorothea Stahl said.
   At the start of the meeting, Board President Amber Concepcion said the contract “is the result of months of collaborative and constructive discussions between the Board and the Association on a number of complex issues.”
   “We would like to thank the Association leadership for approaching contract negotiations as a joint effort with the Board and for all their time and work toward developing a contract to meet the needs of our dedicated teachers and the school district,” Concepcion said.
   Board member Laurel Zydney, a member of the district’s negotiating team, said it had been “wonderful to get to know some of the teachers” through the talks and, in the process, have opportunities to discuss classroom practices, students and education in general.
   “I hope we’ve laid the groundwork for some more of that in future years,” she said.
   SCAEA President Eugene Ruocchio, an association team member, and Board Vice-President Jim Leous, a district team member, echoed Zydney’s sentiment after the vote, with both saying the negotiations had been mutually educational.
    “Really, it was a collaborative process,” Leous said. “We learned a lot about what it means to be a teacher, what it means to be a student in the district. I look forward to more of this dialogue.”
   Under the negotiated contract, salary increases continue to be determined by both years of teaching service in Pennsylvania and undergraduate/graduate course completion. The agreement calls for salary increases resulting in an average annual increase of 3.3 percent over the course of the five years of the contract.
   The development of a new health care insurance program is a long-term cost management strategy, allowing for the salary increases included in the agreement.  Effective Jan. 1, 2016, the medical insurance plans will include:
  • A PPO plan with higher employee cost sharing and a 10 percent co-insurance requirement.

  • A Qualified High Deductible Health Plan (QHDHP) without any co-insurance requirement.

  • A health savings account (HSA) for employees enrolled in the QHDHP — such accounts help employees to save for out-of-pocket medical-related expenses. To assist employees in the transition to the QHDHP option, the district will make a contribution to employees’ HSAs.


   In addition, effective Jan. 1, 2017, an employee will not be able to include coverage for her/his spouse if the spouse has access to comparable medical insurance coverage through her/his own employer.

State High Project Temporary Parking

   The Board voted unanimously to award a bid for constructing temporary State High parking on the North Building campus. Glenn O. Hawbaker, Inc. bid $98,480, the low bid, for building temporary parking spaces on the North Building campus.
   Originally part of the State High Project main bid package, the work became a separate bid so that main project bidding delays would not push construction into the winter.
   About 170 spaces made from stone will replace South Building lot spaces consumed by South Building construction early next year.  The Hawbaker bid includes some storm water controls.
   South Building faculty and staff will use a new parking lot behind their building. North and South students will use the main North Building lot.
   When the new high school is completed, the extra North Building parking spaces will be removed.
   Board member Dorothea Stahl asked Director of Physical Plant Ed Poprik whether the bid was in the range of what he was expecting. Poprik said he estimated the project would cost $100,000.
   “So this is the perfect bid from an estimator’s perspective,” he said.

District Financial Update

   The Board voted unanimously to approve the amending of two line items in the 2014-15 budget before the annual district financial report is submitted to the state by the end of October as required.
   Business Administrator Randy Brown first presented a district recommendation to transfer $6.8 million in unanticipated extra revenue to the capital reserve fund. At the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year, revenue exceeded budget by about $3.9 million due to four factors. Real estate tax revenue increased because a large number of properties, mainly businesses and real estate properties, were added to the tax roll sooner than expected. Earned income tax and realty transfer tax collections also exceeded expectations, and the district received about $900,000 in delayed PlanCon reimbursements for the last two elementary schools built.
   Along with the extra revenue, the district saw expenses come in $3.7 million lower than budgeted. Vacant positions and turnover caused salaries to be lower, and the district had to cover fewer individuals for health and dental insurance. Purchases of services, supplies and equipment did not meet budget predictions, and debt service was lower because of refinancing earlier in the year.
   The combination of revenue and savings led to an unassigned fund balance beyond the allowable $8 million. Brown explained to offset this, the Board could choose to assign the surplus to PSERS, the state employee pension system; capital projects or future year operations. Because of the district’s identified capital needs — the State High Project, the downtown campus and future elementary school projects — that would benefit from funding, Brown said the administration recommended adding the $6.8 million to the $5.4 million transfer already budgeted.
   Additionally, Brown said the administration recommended that the $598,000 assigned for PSERS use in the 2014-15 budget be retained for future use, maintaining the PSERS pay forward fund balance of about $8.6 million, as it was on June 30, 2014.
   After voting unanimously to change the recommendations, originally slated for discussion only, to an action item, the Board gave permission for the district to amend the district’s financial report in time to meet the submission deadline.