December 8, 2017

December Highlights

Organizational Meeting - December 5

The Board held its annual organizational meeting on December 5th.  There were no changes in the roles assumed by the School Board members.  Bonnie Wolff and Brian Gaerity were selected to continue their roles as Board President and Vice President, respectively.  Wolff and Gaerity have held the top leadership roles of the Board since 2014 making 2017 the 4th year they hold the top leadership positions though they exchanged positions in 2015 since policy  limits a board member from serving as president for more than two consecutive years. A recent article on the meeting is available

Board Meeting - December 15

The Board voted to approve the Accelerated Budget Opt Out Resolution for the 2017-2018 school year.  This action indicates that the Avon Grove School District does not plan to pursue an exception to the Act 1 limit for next year, meaning that they will not raise taxes more than 3.3%. This same decision to opt out was made in each of the past 3 years when taxes were increased by 2.7%, 2.3% and 3.1%, respectively which was 0.1% below the Act 1 limit each year.  It seems unlikely that the trend of yearly tax increases will change based on the path the current board has laid out.

The board also officially approved a new contract with the Avon Grove teachers.  The contract is 5 years through June 30, 2022.  There are a number of points highlighted in the information released below that do not translate directly into a clear picture of what the teachers actually received via the new contract.

The Avon Grove Board of School Directors is pleased to announce the approval of a five year "early bird" contract with the Avon Grove Education Association.The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on June 30, 2017.The new agreement will go into effect on July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2022.

"The Board is very excited to enter into a long term agreement with the teachers' association," said Board President Bonnie Wolff."This agreement is beneficial for the District, the Board, the Avon Grove community and the Association's teachers. The Board has achieved several goals in this contract, and this will allow the Board and Administration to plan financially for the next five years in an effort to achieve our long term organizational objectives."

Highlights of the agreement include:

  • A regionally competitive compensation and benefits plan with annual cost increases well below the five-year average base Act 1 Index.
  • The introduction of a high deductible health plan as the sole medical and prescription plan option.This plan replaces the current three-tiered healthcare plan options available under the existing agreement.The high deductible plan design is projected to bring long-term savings to the District.
  • The highest teacher salary, Step 15 with a Masters plus 60 credits, will not increase in years 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the agreement.
  • The annual tuition reimbursement cap was not increased and teachers will continue to have the ability to move one column each year for educational attainment.

At the Board's December 15th meeting, Superintendent Dr. M. Christopher Marchese thanked the Board of School Directors and the Association leadership for their considerable efforts during the early bird process.

"It is very affirming to see the commitment that both sides brought to creating a contract that will benefit our students, our employees, and our District," Marchese said. "I am grateful to all who participated for their dedication to Avon Grove."

The only statement that suggests the value of the contract is “well below the five-year average base Act 1 Index”.  The base Act 1 index history is available
hereThe 5 year average from 2013-2014 through 2016-2017 is 2.1%.  It is noteworthy that the announcement chooses to measure the cost of the increase in terms of how much taxes can continue to be raised to cover the increase.  

Fairly compensating and retaining good teachers is vital to the continued success of the school district, but there is also the potential to offset these increases with efficiencies achieved elsewhere in the school budget versus assuming all additional costs will be covered by tax increases on the surrounding community.  When previous contracts were announced there was some mention of the percentage increase in salaries.

schedule of Board and Committee meetings for 2017 was approved at this meeting as well.

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