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State College Area School Board of Directors Votes to Accept Fact-Finder's Recommendations

by on January 14, 2013 8:09 PM

The State College Area School Board of Directors voted to accept the district's appointed fact-finder's recommendations regarding the State College Area Education Association Collective Bargaining Agreement Monday night. 

In November, fact-finder Alex Kaschock was appointed to work with the board and the teachers' union for 40 days to try and pinpoint the problems that have been keeping the board and SCAEA from agreeing to a new contract for nearly two years. 

The report now goes to SCAEA to be voted on, for which a date has yet to be set. 

Board members who voted to reject the report wanted to make the fact-finder's recommendations public and give the community the opportunity to see what was in the report before moving forward. 

Contract negotiations were in the works for 22 months before a fact-finder was brought in to help settle the differences and explore proposals from both sides of the negotiations.

The board will not, at this time, share any specifics of the negotiations but once SCAEA completes its vote, the district will have additional information available on its website.

Some board members were not pleased with the intent to move forward without including the community as a whole in the fact-finder process. Laurel Zydney said she was inclined to vote against the contract. 

"I'm looking towards the opportunity for there to be more openness," Zydney said. "We don’t have secret conversations they’re really more confidential."

Amber Concepcion agreed with Zydney, saying she, too, would like to make the findings of the report public before moving forward. 

Zydney, Concepcion and Jim Pawelczyk voted against accepting the report, which passed 6-3. 

Former board president and current board member Ann McGlaughlin voted in favor of passing the report, but did express some concern before doing so. 

"I don’t think this process has been adversarial and I don’t want it to be perceived that way," McGlaughlin said. "This commitment, like all of our commitments, needs to be sustainable and wihin our means.

"We need to consider all components of our budget," she said. 

Superintendent Bob O'Donnell updated board members of the status of the increased police presence in schools across the district on Monday night. In December, increased security measures were implemented to ensure students' safety in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn. 

On Monday, O'Donnell said State College Borough officers will continue to be present at area schools, and ongoing assessments of the situation will determine how it progresses. 

Board members approved future meeting dates where perpetual hot topics will be discussed, starting with a 7 p.m. work session on Jan. 21 to discuss the high school project. A complete listing of future meetin dates can be found on the district's website.  

The board also approved a resolution that included terms of a settlement between the district and the Royal Bank of Canada. The swap agreement has its roots in 2004, and the board released a statement on the agreement and the board's commitment to moving forward on Monday night. 

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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