GROVE CITY – Grove City school directors on Monday approved a new five-year contract for the district’s teachers’ union.

“It was a very involved process but it was very collegial,” said Dr. Constance Nichols, board president.

The contract takes effect Aug. 1, 2019, and expires July 31, 2024, and includes some significant changes to healthcare. The board held a special voting meeting after Monday night’s monthly work session.

Nichols, Heather Baker, Roberta Hensel, Patty Wilson, and Dr. Michael O’Donovan voted in favor of the contract. Vice President Ray Abplanalp, Carolyn Oppenheimer, and J. Scott Somora voted against it. Dr. Armanda Sciullo was absent.

Members of the Grove City Area Education Association have already ratified the contract, Nichols said.

The teachers are working under a one-year contract extension that was approved in May.

Members of the board’s negotiations team are Hensel, Nichols, O’Donovan, and Abplanalp, and they’ve been working on the new contract since early 2018, Nichols said.

“This process has been grounded in a spirit of mutual respect between parties, each informed by their various perspectives. Overall, the common driving force was a focus on what would create the best student outcomes while respecting our community’s resources,” according to a news release issued by the board’s team and the union’s negotiations team.

The biggest change to this contract is moving to a new healthcare provider, which will save the district about $700,000 a year, Nichols said.

The district will be using the Allegheny County School Health Insurance Consortium for the union’s healthcare needs – something that needed to be researched very carefully, considering families and children are involved.

“The healthcare change was pretty monumental,” Nichols said.

Because of the consortium’s size – it includes many districts in western Pennsylvania – there is more bargaining power, resulting in a cost savings for Grove City Area School District.

There are salary increases built into the contract, with the amount varying depending on the individual, she said.

In other business at Monday’s work session:

• Nichols and Oppenheimer shared information about what they learned at recent conference for members of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

• The facilities and school safety committee reported that some community members are interested in sponsoring certain parts of athletics facilities, like a new scoreboard.

• Board members noted that they’re considering the hiring of two more police officers for the district. They would join James Francic, who was hired in October and has started some behind-the-scenes work, Nichols said.

Board members will vote during their Monday, Nov. 12, meeting on hiring Douglas Maxwell and Kevin Jaszemski as recommended by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Joshua Weaver and Francic.

Maxwell and Jaszemski, both former Pennsylvania State Police corporals, would be paid $21 per hour, and district officials are pursuing more grants to help cover their salaries. Most of Francic’s salary is being covered by a grant.

• Weaver and Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Finch said they’ll be sharing some data on Monday about student performance and assessment. That meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the board conference room at the district’s main office.

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