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Upper St. Clair Teachers Agree to New Contract

The agreement will save the Upper St. Clair School District more than $3.7 million in its first two years.

Upper St. Clair School teachers voted 170 to 61 Friday evening to accept a new teacher contract with .

After the ratification, school board members met at 8 p.m. Friday and voted 8 to 1 to approve the agreement.

The new contract will save the district more than $3.7 million in its first two years.

The four-year contract replaces the prior contract that was not due to expire for another two years.

The most significant changes in the agreement are in salary compensation and a no furlough guarantee.

In the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years, teachers will use their 2009-10 salary schedule. In the 2014-15 school year, the 2010-11 salary schedule will be used. And in 2015-16, the 2011-12 schedule will be implemented.

In exchange, the district will furlough no union employee through 2013-14.

School Director Louis Mafrice was the only school board member to vote against the agreement because of the no furlough guarantee. He said he couldn't support the agreement unless the furlough waiver was reduced to one year.

Other contract changes include:

  • Any professional employee that is eligible to retire and retires in the next four years will receive a $15,000 bonus.
  • Retirees will be eligible for medical insurance for a third of the time they spent with the district. For example, an employee of 30 years would receive 10 years of medical insurance, or until they were eligible for Medicare.
  • The number of in-service days will be reduced from 14 to 11 days per school year.
  • The number of professional meetings will be reduced from three a month to two a month.
  • Contributions to health insurance will increase. Professional employees must also pay 16 percent of the total premium for dental and vision insurance.
  • Professional employees will be allowed to take personal days with 10 days of advanced notice. Before, teachers were allowed three personal days a year.
  • A teacher and administrator committee will be formed concerning changes to the teacher evaluation system.

"This new agreement was possible due to the strong partnership that exists between teachers and the Upper St. Clair School District. It is important to note that the teachers' union and the teachers had no obligation to renegotiate their prior contract," said Rebecca Stern, school board president.

"The teachers have stepped up with a major personal financial input to the mutual partnership with the Upper St. Clair community. Our voluntary retrofit of the bargaining agreement will, by itself, not resolve the crisis. But when combined with investments from other stakeholders, the teachers can continue their good work at their proven high level of success," said John Irwin, president of the Upper St. Clair Education Association.

"The budget crisis we are facing can only be addressed through a concerted effort by the staff, administration, and community, each willing to make difficult decisions that serve the best interests of the students. The sacrifices made by the USCEA reflect our dedication to providing the best possible education for our students and will ensure that the high expectations of the Upper St. Clair School District will continue to be met," said Patrick Manion, president-elect of the USCEA.

"As an educator for almost 30 years, I understand and am grateful for the sacrifice our teachers have made. The positive and constructive relationship we have with our teachers is a major reason the school district has been so successful and why Upper St. Clair is a great place to live," said Patrick O'Toole, superintendent of the Upper St. Clair School District.

If the union would have rejected the proposal, O'Toole said the district would have had to move forward with , which included the elimination of programs and the .

"If we would have had to furlough 30 to 40 teachers, I don't think we could have easily survived," said Angela Petersen, school board member.

The administration is expected to present what the new agreement will mean for the 2012-13 budget at the next school board meeting on April 30.

What are your thoughts on the new teacher contract? Tell us in the comments.

john smith April 21, 2012 at 12:12 PM
What a joke! That teachers union is a embarrassment to all unions. Because of the careless spending of the school board, you are asked to clean up their mess. Instead of standing your ground, you ran away with your tail between your legs. I thank you teachers for keeping my taxes low so now I can take an even more lavish vacation and you must go back to your salary of two years ago.
Billee April 21, 2012 at 12:52 PM
I thought union leadership and it's brotherhood was all about making a difference? Teacher leadership was not an embarrassment. If anything they were of good example. The teachers reinvested their entitlements into your children and their future during these hard economic times. These teachers gave back to the community. Your district is on top. I would be thankful for what I have instead of what I didn't. Thank you to all teachers for making a difference.
Vicki McKenna April 21, 2012 at 01:02 PM
As an active volunteer in this district, I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet a majority of the staff and administration. Our children are taught by individuals who genuinely love their work. The majority of our teachers are kind, compassionate, and make educating our children their priority. They care about our children and they care about each other. This is made more evident by their willingness to open their contract. They unselfishly agreed to terms to save furloughs and to help this district and community through challenging financial times. A great lesson for our youth! This decision is not an embarrassment . . . salary freezes and concessions are being implemented in nearly every business across the country. Mr. Smith, instead a "taking even more lavish vacations," please consider a donation to the USCSD Office of Advancement or to the Community Foundation of USC in honor of the "USC staff and administration."
Dina Fulmer April 21, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Vicki Mc Kenna is right on the mark. Congratulations to the district and thanks to the teachers for their unselfish decision -- another example of why USC is the best school district in the state.
Diane Hall April 21, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Yes, I agree with Vicki and Dina. The teachers are grateful to be employed in this district, and I am grateful to reside here. Diane Hall
InUSC April 21, 2012 at 06:09 PM
To the contrary, Mr. Smith. What the union did was act as a good union should, protect its "weakest" members; in this case the least senior faculty/staff that would have most assuredly been furloughed. Instead of allowing 30 - 40 of their brethren be out of work, they renegotiated their collective bargaining agreement, accepted a new pay scale and protected the vulnerable members by negotiating for no furlough guarantee. You should be proud of people who do the right thing, even when it may effect them negatively. I am.
Mary Repischak April 21, 2012 at 08:35 PM
I agree with Vicki. Thank you to the teachers for helping to maintain the quality of our school district. I appreciate that they were willing to work with the school board in the best interest of our children.
USCMOM April 21, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Well said Vicki! Especially your point that this is a wonderful example for our youth. I am a USC graduate. I have taught in the district and worked as an aide and a secretary. My 3 children are USC grads. The teachers here are the best of the best. They work tirelessly to help our students to succeed. They hold themselves to a higher standard and are professionals who deserve our respect and gratitude.
John Schuldt April 21, 2012 at 10:19 PM
To John Smith - first man up and use your real name. Your adversarial comments serve no purpose in advancing your position. Second. I was a participant this morning in the 1st annual Baker PTA Flapjacks fundraiser held at Boyce. I was mixing batter at 7:00 AM and flipping pancakes at 7:10. There were teachers from Baker working at that time. I did not know about this agreement but had I known I would have thanksed the teachers that showed up and worked the pancake breakfast in support of their students. Your comments, sir are way off the mark. When my family and I moved here 6 years ago we looked in Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township and Fox Chapel. We settled in USC because we found a home that worked for us and the reputation of the school district coupled with the optional IB program. I commend the board and the union for working out a solution that benefits all constituents: the taxpayers, the students and the teachers. John Schuldt
Mark Trombetta April 22, 2012 at 01:49 AM
A great sacrifice by the Teachers of USC and a example of true leadership. Let's not forget that the economic mess that the Teachers bailed USC out from under was caused by the reckless and irresponsible School Board who spent money that we did not have without regard to the current economy. When you add synthetic turf to a 5th-6th grade field and double the size of two school buildings despite NO increase in enrollment, you are reckless. Mrs. Petersen, Mrs. Bolas and the rest of the spendthirfts carried on in lockstep with the former Board members like Mrs. Fulmer by raising taxes and punishing the taxpayers and parents as well as the elderly of our community. This is supposed to be a COMMUNITY , not just a school district. You Board members are not out of the woods, and neither are we, the taxpayers, who will still be crushed with tax increases. Thanks to the Teachers' leadership, the punishment is significantly lessened. Please, USC School Board, don't spend the concessions that the teachers have just given you. Show some form of restraint. Cancel IB and the rest of the wasteful spending that you do before you cancel teachers.
Mary Ann Smithton April 22, 2012 at 04:01 AM
I am delighted to see such community support. The teachers felt the need to take concessions in order to save district programs. Nevertheless, the teachers should feel a sense of resentment because of the way the process was handled. Instead of allowing the teachers to be a part of the conversation, Dr. O'Toole and the union president used scare tactics and a "take it or leave it" approach to the problem. In other words, "accept this new proposal or we will eliminate jobs and programs." It is a sad day for the Upper St. Clair Teachers Union.
Taxpayer "JOE" April 22, 2012 at 09:43 PM
There is one simple solution to all this. Allow drilling in the areas like the Rec Ctr! Range is giving $3,000 an acre to walk in and 17% royalties once the well produces. For all those who think drilling is bad for the environment "Look around" there are currently 40 active wells in USC and Bethel and they have been here for almost 100 years. ONE is across the street from our beloved Football Stadium! People it is time to get your head out of the sand and stop believing all the "rumors".
Steph Harris April 23, 2012 at 02:29 AM
I agree with Vicki! Congratuations and thank you to our unselfish teachers who voted to compromise their salaries/benefits to allow our school district to remain top-notch. You've set a good example for our kids!
Michelle April 23, 2012 at 03:09 AM
How long will it take the USC School Board to waste the money that was saved through the sacrifices from the teachers?
william atwell April 23, 2012 at 03:40 AM
What saddens me is the union had to make this vote due to incompt school board! The union should be appalled for showing the residents of USC they are human! The real questions should be directed at the very liberal school board! Come on folks if you can't balance your household budget how many of us can go to our bosses and say we are giving ourselves a pay raise? Yet the very liberal school board does that all the time! Yet then they want to point fingers and say its not there fault! I am a great grandson of the Orginal redneck army (Blair mountain west Virginia) grandson of a USW, Son of a USW and brother to 2 USW! And I can say I take my hat off to the teachers!! They showed the students come first!! But what comes first for the school board? That is the question I would like answered? Are they proud that the school projects came just 30% over budget? How many of you would allow a contractor to budget for 30% over? Why don't we recall this school board? Let's vote people in who will disclose all the in's and outs to the public! Why won't the school board answer these simple questions? inquiring minds want to know! William J. Atwell, Jr. Kings Lane USC resident and tax payer
william atwell April 23, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Btw my post it should be congratulated! Sorry for typo
william atwell April 23, 2012 at 04:05 AM
So what are we as tax payers going to do about a school board who thinks we the residents are a endless supply of money for them to spend? For one we should treat the school board like our children and say NO! You want these extras you have to give something up! One problem I have is what happens to the children who do not fit into the college mold? What programs are for them to have a real go at the real world? How many of the children who finish high school here in USC actually graduate college? I know a guy who went and dropped out! He started a very successful grass cutting service. Why is our school board always trying to one up mt Lebo? And if this IB program is so great why don't more schools offer it? These are the questions the school board should be answering! Remember folks we are the bosses! Because we are the tax payers! Let's vote in 2013 and get people on the board who will answer these really tough questions! I say to the school board YOUR FIRED! I hope more feed up tax payers join me in 2013 and fire 4 school board members
Another Teacher April 23, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Dina: Over the years including the more than 16 you served on the board, the teachers contract was pumped up to the point of ridiculous. The teachers now have agreed to a cut in their "increase" to avoid lay-offs. this is not unselfish. It is smart--especially since the board gave away their ability to furlough. If you had negotiated like this with them years ago we would not be here now. But you were afraid to be tough. You were afraid of strikes. Too bad you didn't hold your ground 25 years ago. Too bad you didn't spent less on fancy buildings, and make better fiscal decisions regarding other things like busing and pay-for curricula. If you had we would not be here now. The problem is the board never makes hard decisions until their backs are up against the wall. Your constant refrain that education will suffer and property values will decline is nonsense. What makes education suffer is poor decisions by board members who don't ever say no, and who don't know how to manage appropriately. What makes property values go down is when you raise taxes consistently over many years increasing the expectation of increasing prices. When the monthly tax bill increases there is less to spend on the mortgage. When that happens homeowners have to drop their prices. Property values go down. And that is what USC is facing right now. Congratulations.
Another Teacher April 23, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Unfortunately there is no recall in PA. In addition even ACT 1 which restricts tax hikes can be overridden with a simple waiver from the state given out liberally. A referendum signed by over 800 taxpayers asking for a vote on this ridiculous tax increase has gone unheeded. As for the School Board, the problem is that no one are willing to stand against this current crowd for election. This group that leads now is tight and vicious. They will chew up any opposition and spit them out. The last time there was any competition they spent over $40,000 to defeat them, claimed their opponents were out to ruin education in USC. Before that they drove out the fiscal conservatives by suing them, threatening their jobs and even their children. Taxes will continue to go up and property values will drop.
william atwell April 23, 2012 at 03:02 PM
@ another teacher, sounds like you are saying no one will stand and say enough? Well I take a stand and I say enough! And I say I will throw my hat in the ring! For I am a tax payer and I'm sick and tired of liberals dictating. They ate to govern by the consent of the people. I no longer consent with opening my wallet when they can not balance the budget. For the others the threats all I can say is they better come with both guns blazing. Job threats well what I do for a living that is a daily occurance! What the residents must do is stand a united front and say no more! I am all for education. I put myself through college! But there has to be a honest look at what we have and what we truly need and can afford.
Joe Taxpayer April 25, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Joe Taxpayer--- Fracking and fracking fluids were not used 100 years ago! The drilling isnt the problem. Its what to do with the toxic waste water afterwards. Then again, if your Dick Cheney, you can just change the laws and you wont have to follow any of the clean air or water laws and do what you want with it.
Concerned Citizen April 30, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Upper St. Clair's budget problems are not the fault of the teachers and they should be applauded for doing their part to help solve the problem. The real cause of the problem is the irresponsibility of the school board in handling the taxpayer's money. This school board has over spent on items ranging from over ambitious and unnecessary school renovations, million dollar football practice fields, as well as unnecessary school programs. When the time comes, vote this school board out!
Another Teacher April 30, 2012 at 03:58 PM
This board and especially Barbara Bolas and Angela Peterson have practiced irresponsible fiscal policies for the last 20 years. That said the teachers deserve NO applause for their decision to take a cut in pay. First of all the cut is minimal compared to what the private sector (the citizens who are paying their salaries), has taken in this economy. Second, they are getting job security in exchange (which is pretty hard to come by in the private sector). Third they are also reducing their hours by decreasing the number of meetings they can be asked to attend and the number of professional days from 14 to 11 (that's three more days off a year!). Fourth, they are now not limited to three personal days per year but rather with 10 days notice can take as many as they have accumulated. Fifth they just got their eligible retirees a $15,000 bonus if they will retire within the next four years and during their retirement period their medical insurance has been increased. Give me a break! This board shows once again that they are either in the teachers pocket or they are just too wimpy to say no. I think it is a little of both. After all, what would the teachers' choice have been? They could go on strike. But I do not believe the community would support that. They could leave--go somewhere else. But where? Everyone is laying off and where are they going to get to teach like USC? Honestly. The only applause should be for their cunning, not their generosity.
Oren Spiegler April 30, 2012 at 09:00 PM
It is rare and selfless for a public school teachers' union to accept any type of concessions, however the union got a great deal in return, the promise that the administration will not furlough any dues-paying members over a period of years. I will be interested to learn whether the Board finds the means to squander the savings as it usually does, or whether it will be passed on to the taxpayers, for whom this Board and others have had little, if any, regard and concern. Is Upper Saint Clair to be a middle class community in which the burden of taxpayer/homeowner is minimized, or is it to be a wealthy enclave for those who do not care how much they pay in taxes, trusting in elected officials who are required to possess no financial acumen? The greatest joke is that there is a fiscally-conservative, prudent, dominant Republican Party in this community. Oh, there is a majority of Republican registrants here, and the party chairman proclaims fealty to small, limited government in pre-election pamphlets that one can only regard as absurd. The notion that the party adheres to the traditional GOP tenets is a figment of the imagination. The community is every bit as much an overtax and overspend area as the most liberal Democratic strongholds.
Another Teacher April 30, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Are you kidding me? The teachers got job security, three more days off every year, fewer required after-hours meetings, a $15,000 bonus and extra medical benefits for their retirees in the next four years. Teaching in PA is run by the PSEA which does not consider the students in any of their negotiations. The students do not pay dues. The teachers do. And woe to the teacher who dares to decline membership. See this for what it is--a contract negotiation in which once again the school board caved and the union won.


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