Clarion-Limestone board narrowly approves pact

The lingering labor dispute in the Clarion-Limestone School District is over. At a special school board meeting Tuesday night the board approved the new five-year contract on a 5-4 vote.

The board discussed the contract prior to taking the vote. Board member Roger Powell objected to two board members voting on the contract when the district employed their spouses. Powell said he did not vote on a transportation contract because his sister was a bus contractor.

Clarion-Limestone School Board President Molly Greenawalt said the vote was for a contract for the entire union and not just one individual.

Board member Mike Meals said, “If you are calling me unethical, I will take that black eye. It is still legal.”

Board member Kathy Henry questioned the disparity in supplemental contracts. She said the supplemental contracts among coaches should be “fair and equitable.”

Board member Lee Stewart said the head-to-head contracts were paid equally.

Greenawalt said she was concerned about the teacher’s rate of contribution to their insurance plan and the reimbursement rate for unused sick days. She said the starting rate of $44,000 for new teachers might make it difficult for future boards to offer a retirement incentive. “This may be the last contract that offers a retirement incentive,” she said.

Questioned about the impact of the new contract on the district’s budget, Business Manager Stephanie Smith said the district might need to raise taxes to the state index. “We may also have to make other decisions and look at other measures to save costs,” she said.

Board member Gary Sproul reminded the board that the fact finder’s report had been accepted by the board and the contract was $17,000 higher than the amount in that report. “We are talking quarters and dimes here,” he said.

Voting in favor of the contract were Mike Meals, Terry Leadbetter, Lee Stewart, Gary Sproul and Dave Schirmer. Opposing the contract were Kathy Henry, Molly Greenawalt, Roger Powell and Jamie Mahle.

The Clarion-Limestone Area Education Association (CLEA) accepted the contract last week.

The new contract will be in effect from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2023.