ROARING SPRING - The Spring Cove school board rejected a wage freeze offer made late Monday by the district teachers' union.
A package the union presented to the school board at its monthly meeting, which ran until about midnight Monday, was not a true freeze, Superintendent Rodney Green said.
"A wage freeze, in my mind, is you're agreeing you're going to give up that compensation," he said Tuesday after the district issued a press release on the decision.
The offer was a postponement or deferment, the release stated.
"Without going into detail, the Spring Cove Education Association proposal is complex and contains restrictive language with many conditions," Green said in the press release. "The Board of Directors had hoped to see a direct wage freeze offer, and they are disappointed that the teachers' proposal does not represent a current and future savings to the district."
Union President John Fitzpatrick disagreed with the district's interpretation of what the union presented.
The teachers' union proposed to delay receiving its 3.8 percent increase slated for next year - the last year of its contract - until the following year, Fitzpatrick said Tuesday.
"We asked to take a freeze next year and [then] finish out the contract [in 2011-12]," Fitzpatrick said. "How can you say it's not a genuine pay freeze when our salaries are not going up next year?"
The district didn't want to negotiate, but instead wanted the teachers to accept the freeze, let their contract expire in 2011-12 and - teachers suspect - "maybe go a second, then a third year without a pay increase," Fitzpatrick said.
"Essentially, they wanted us to take an indefinite pay freeze," he said.
Fitzpatrick indicated the offer from the Spring Cove union was similar to what the Hollidaysburg Area Education Association recently approved.
Hollidaysburg's union agreed to a wage freeze for the 2011-12 school year, saving the district about $570,000. Details of that agreement were not available Tuesday.
Hollidaysburg's school board is scheduled to vote tonight on whether to approve the union's acceptance of the pay freeze.
The Spring Cove union was "kicking the can down the road," board member William H. Replogle said Tuesday.
The union offered a savings overall to the board of about $85,000, but the board was looking for a figure closer to $200,000 to $250,000, he said.
The offer brought "little money to the table," and it required a guarantee that no furloughs would take place, he said.
"We can't tell them that when they only bring a small amount to the table," he said.
The board formally asked the state Monday to lay off four full-time teachers and one part-time teacher.
"We would accept a freeze if they gave us a true freeze," Replogle said.
But there are "six or seven strings attached" to the offer and one of those was a renegotiation of the teachers' contract until 2014, he said. Under the union proposal, teachers could make up the freeze with raises through 2014, he said.
Individual teachers have indicated to him they are open to a wage freeze, if it would prevent layoffs, and the resistance is coming from the union leadership, he said.
The district does not know what is on the horizon for next year with state appropriations, but it expects to get level funding from Gov. Tom Corbett for the 2012-13 school year, Replogle said.
The union also presented a retirement incentive that did not offer a significant enough savings to the district, he said.
The board had to consider that three of seven retiring teachers would need to be replaced, the district would not know at what level of the pay scale a replacement would come into the district and what the district would have to pay out for the incentives to a total of 12 employees, he said.
Fitzpatrick planned to call a meeting for next week to see what the union's next move would be, he said.
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Clegg is at 949-7030. Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.