Greencastle-Antrim teachers, school board OK four-year contract
Teachers in the Greencastle-Antrim School District overwhelmingly agreed to a new four-year contract Thursday, Oct. 6, and the school board followed suit with a unanimous vote that evening.
The board voted 9-0 to approve the collective bargaining agreement with the Greencastle-Antrim Education Association, the union that represents 193 educators. Everyone in the audience of about 20 — including teachers in gray GAEA T-shirts that read “Stand Strong Stand Together,” administrators and other district employees — and the board clapped after the vote.
Earlier in negotiations:Greencastle-Antrim teacher strike is an option amid contract talks
On Aug. 18, the teachers authorized leadership to call a strike if necessary after nearly a year of negotiations and they have been working under the terms of an expired contract since Sept. 1.
“Both sides saw the need to come together on a number of issues,” Brandon Solomon, GAEA president, said after the school board meeting.
The four-year pact covers the 2022-23 to 2026-27 school years and includes raises of 3.75% the first year, 3.6% the second, 3.5% the third and 3.4% the fourth.
Teachers sought raises of 4%, 3.8%, 3.5% and 3.5%, while as of July the board was offering a three-year contract with pay hikes of 2.65%, 2.5% and 2.5%.
The teachers had agreed to a salary freeze in 2021 amid financial worries associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
A starting teacher with a bachelor’s degree is on the first step of the pay scale and receives $51,852, while a teacher with a master’s degree at the top of the scale earns $86,823, according to Dr. Lura Hanks, superintendent.
The agreement also maintains quality health-care benefits, according to a joint news release issued by the Pennsylvania State Education Association on behalf of GAEA and the school board.
One insurance change that will save the district money is strict spousal exclusion, Solomon said. Spouses whose employers offer health care coverage will not be eligible for district insurance. Teachers also will be able to opt for a high deductible plan rather than the traditional PPO (preferred provider organization).
“We recognize the good faith and commitment of the board in working with us to reach a contract that we believe will enable us to recruit and retain the high caliber educators for which our district is known, said Susie Kline, GAEA president-elect.
“It was a lengthy process, but we believe this agreement addresses the realities of a national teacher shortage,” Solomon said. “And it will allow us to continue to focus on classroom priorities and deliver a high-quality education to our students.”
“We recognize the hard work and dedication our educators give to our students each and every day. We are pleased to have reached what we believe is a fair contract that reflects the needs of our educators, our community and our students,” said Shannon Blanchard, chief negotiator for the school board.
Tracy Baer, school board president, thanked both sides for the long hours and hard work they put into reaching an agreement.
“We look forward to continuing to move forward together with our teachers this school year to create the best education environment possible for the students of our district,” Baer added.
The contract is still technically considered tentative until it is signed by Solomon and Baer after a final reading by both sides in the next week or two, Solomon said, explaining no changes will be made.
Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org