Board approves budget, but union files grievance

As the Loyalsock Township School Board prepared to vote on its 2013-14 budget, it was announced during the meeting’s public comment period that a grievance has been filed against the district.

According to Robin Boone, of the Loyalsock Township Education Support Professionals Association, the district failed to bargain in good faith because the two sides came to a four-year agreement in April, but the association later was informed that two paraprofessionals would be cut from full-time to part-time employees.

Boone said paraprofessionals were told about the change on the last day of school. The cuts were not part of the district’s preliminary budget.

Austin White, solicitor, said that because the grievance was filed the board would not discuss the issue except in executive session.

Theresa Moff, a mother of a student with special needs, told the board her son would be “directly affected” by the decision because he will lose his aide of three years due to the aide’s lack of seniority. This will affect his education because they have formed a trusting relationship.

“She knows him like the back of her hand,” Moff told the board.

The board explored the option of moving eight paraprofessionals from full- to part-time employees last year but ultimately removed the cut from the final 2012-13 budget. Moff said not including the cut in any previous budget discussions, the board lacked transparency in its actions.

She added that “the savings is peanuts” compared to the costs to the district for administration raises, costs for the new turf football field and the iPad initiative.

Gerald McLaughlin, business manager, reported that slashing the two positions will save $24,903.

Pamela Temons, whose son had an aide while a student at the high school, asked the board to look out for the best interest of the students.

The board voted 6-2 to approve the $19,246,941 budget, which included no tax hike, with board members Christina Kiessling and David Hornberger voting against it.

The other changes from the preliminary budget were the addition of a kindergarten teacher, a reduction in textbook costs and the replacement of two teachers.

The budget had a deficit of $109,652, which will be made up using fund balance.