AASD board to vote on union contract

The Altoona Area school board is set to vote on a recommended contract settlement with the district’s teachers union.

The board’s vote is scheduled for a public meeting on Wednesday. It could cap a fact-finding process begun Feb. 18. by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. Months of stagnant negotiation sessions necessitated the labor board’s involvement.

The union has been working under a contract that expired Aug. 31.

“At this point, we are certainly anxious to see how the board will vote,” Altoona Area Education Association President Doug Rosenberry said.

He said the teachers’ union has ratified the report and settlement recommendations. He said about 75 percent of the union members voted in favor of adopting the report. Obeying requests of the labor relations board, he declined to comment further. Likewise, board President Maryann Joyce Bistline declined to comment on how she felt the board would vote.

If the board votes against the findings, the report becomes a public document, district Solicitor David Andrews said. Another vote would take place within five to 10 days of the report’s public disclosure.

Neither party has disclosed details of negotiations to this point. Not wanting to draw out negotiations any longer, the two parties agreed in February to involve a third-party, the Labor Relations Board, to reach a settlement.

The appearance of a conflict of interest for some board members had been considered during the board’s previous meeting. Four of the board’s nine members have spouses or sons or daughters in the teachers’ union.

Andrews said those members may participate in contract negotiations and cast votes in the matter. The Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission has ruled in two cases that board members with immediate family members may do so, Andrews stated in an email.

A restriction on participation in negotiations applies to someone who is a member of both negotiating parties. For example, if a board member is a teacher and union member at another school district, they cannot participate by a provision in the Public Employee Relations Act. All local teacher unions are members of the same statewide union.

The board is scheduled to vote on the fact finders report at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the William P. Kimmel board room at the high school.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.