Without a contract since June, the Loyalsock Township Education Association was approved to take negotiations between it and the Loyalsock Township School District before a state factfinder Friday.
Robert Gifford, of State College, has been assigned as the factfinder for the hearing.
According to the education association the two sides have been working on a new contract since January but have been unsuccessful in coming to a new agreement since the contract expired in June.
Without a new deal, all district teachers have been working under the past contract while working with the district to secure a new agreement.
"What you do is you work under the past contract. But you're still negotiating," said Superintendent Robert Grantier.
After working without a deal so far this school year, the education association requested factfinding from the state Labor Relations Board, which was approved last week.
Cary Kurtz, uniserv representative for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said the two sides were far enough apart that the association decided to apply for factfinding.
"We wanted to see if we could close the gap," Kurtz said. "... We just thought we were that far apart and we didn't feel like we were making sufficient process."
He added that teachers were getting "antsy" once the school year started and there still was no agreement.
The education association decided to file for factfinding with the hopes of giving the negotiations "a little push."
Kurtz said the "major sticking points," are "economic items," such as salary, health care and retirement.
In a news release, Kirk Bower, education association president, said he hoped this action would resolve the issues the two parties have had during negotiations.
"We have been trying for many months to settle a fair contract, yet we have been unable to come to a resolution - in regards to issues to salary, health care, tuition reimbursements and retirement benefits," Bower said. "We are hopeful that a state neutral factfinder will be able to narrow down those issues and help us come to a settlement."
During the Nov. 2 hearing before the factfinder, each party will be able to present their reasoning for their stance during negotiations.
"Basically, you're looking at the last proposal that each side had on the table," Kurtz said. "And each side can present to the factfinder the rationale (behind the proposals)."
Once the factfinder presents his findings and offers a solution, each party must choose to accept or deny the recommendation.
"He can come down on the district's side, completely on the association's side or somewhere in between," Kurtz said.
Grantier said it's important to remember that neither side has to agree to accept the factfinder's results.
"It's nonbinding so either side can accept or not accept," he said.
Grantier said it's not uncommon for negotiations between education associations and school districts to take some time to be resolved. He cited other area districts taking over a year to come to agreements.
Kurtz said it depends on the sides involved and issues holding negotiations back.
Asked why he believed the negotiations were having a difficult time coming to a resolution, Kurtz said: "Quite frankly, I don't know. The school board doesn't seem to want to move on any of the economic proposals."
Kurtz added that even if the recommendation from the factfinder is rejected by either side, it still can help to bring the two sides closer together.
"Even if it gets rejected sometimes it can be a stepping-stone to an agreement," he said.
A phone call to Edward Ade Jr., school board president, was not returned by press time.