LEWISTOWN - Following 11 months of intense negotiations, the Mifflin County School District and the Association of Mifflin County Educators on Thursday agreed to a new two-year contract retroactive to July 1 of this year and continuing through June 30, 2014.
On Thursday evening the Mifflin County School Board voted by a 5-2 margin to approve a recommendation from Superintendent James Estep to ratify the new deal. Voting in favor of the measure were Walter Harpster, Travis Parkes, Kirk Rager, Kriston Sharp and Annemarie Swineford. Voting against the agreement were Beth Laughlin and Mary Lou Sigler. Board members Dr. Ruth Armstrong and James Hurlburt were not in attendance at Thursday's session.
Prior to the school board's vote, Estep commented, "We went through nearly a year working back and forth with AMCE on this. Compromises had to be made that both sides didn't necessarily love. However, both sides looked at the continued uncertain financial situation (from the state) and both sides recognized the need to work together to come to an agreement."
Estep said the teachers union met earlier in the day Thursday and "had a positive vote in support of the contract."
Dianne Shearer, president of AMCE, said the contract calls for an average 2.4 percent salary increase in the first year and 2.39 percent in the second. Those increases aren't for everybody, however.
"Not every teacher will get that," Shearer said. "Some will receive less and some will receive more depending on where they're at on the salary scale. This (increase) represents the average."
Estep said the increases will not come in the form of additional money to be made up in the future.
"We understood that we didn't have any new money to make a deal," Estep said. "This contract counted on the association to agree to concessions on health care and teacher tuition reimbursement. Those things essentially offset the raise. No new taxpayer money is coming out of the 2.4 percent raise."
Shearer said the teachers have been working under the terms of the previous contract which expired June 30 of this year.
"The teachers worked under the old contract for 131 days," Estep added.
In other business Thursday, the board:
Approved the use of Mifflin County High School and waived the fee for a holiday concert to be held Saturday, Dec. 8 involving school music groups, a local quartet and the Lewistown Community Band.
Hired Larry Reed as a custodian at Mifflin County Middle School effective Nov. 20.
Added Ashley Freed and Lori Liddick to the cafeteria substitute list.
Accepted the resignation of Diana Shingler, cafeteria worker at East Derry Elementary School, effective Nov. 21.
Approved the 2012-13 daily contracted rates for student transportation.
Approved Sharee Ann Fisher as a van driver for Fisher Brothers Bus Lines.
Recognized the following drivers with 25 years of experience: Susan Ronk, Doris McKee, Terry Lee Musselman, Ronna Bloom and Pamela Bell.
Approved the following additions to the substitute teacher list: Sarah Ebken, elementary; Danielle Warntz, elementary; Lisa Kellas, all subject areas; Rhonda Pupo, all subject areas; Lacie Hostetler, mathematics; and Carley Smith, all subject areas.
Deleted Ashley Smithyman from the substitute teacher list.
Accepted the resignation of Wendy Smith, administrative secretary for the maintenance department, effective Jan. 17, 2013.
Accepted the resignation of Stephanie Hopkins, language arts/reading specialist at Lewistown Elementary School, effective Dec. 21, due to relocation.
Hired Cynthia Groninger for the language arts/reading specialist teaching position at Lewistown Elementary School, effective approximately Nov. 19.
Hired the following coaches for the 2012-13 school year: Tamara Sechler, assistant spring track; Keith Yoder, junior varsity baseball; and Kyle Cramer, first assistant baseball.
Approved the following volunteer coaches for the 2012-13 school year: Stephen King, wrestling; Aaron Bubb, baseball;Alexander Haines, baseball; Brandi Kohan, cheerleading; John Hilton, boys basketball; and Adam Stout, wrestling.