Montrose school board rejects arbitrator finding

The Montrose Area School Board voted unanimously at a special meeting held Thursday, Nov. 10, to reject the non-binding arbitration finding which came in favor of accepting the Montrose Education Association’s contract proposal.
Both the district and the teachers’ association mandated the arbitration panel select only one or the other proposal in its entirety. “It is an understatement to say that the Panel is disappointed in both parties (last best final offer) and it believes neither LBFO is in the best interest of the parties, individually or collectively, or the public interest.”
“Unfortunately, the selection of one or the other proposal in unlikely to bring the parties closer to settlement,” predicted the arbitrator’s opinion.
The panel found that the district’s wage proposal is more in line with financial realities of the school’s budget. But went on to say the district overreached in its plan to renew retirement incentives, eliminate retirement insurance and due deduction. The panel found that the inclusion of some of the items was “punitive.”
Superintendent Carol Boyce said the board felt strongly that arbitrator’s comments regarding the financial piece of the decision were absolutely accurate.
But with the board’s vote, two additional negotiation sessions have been scheduled – one for next week and one in December. “The district is optimistic that we can find a mutually satisfactory agreement,” Boyce said.
At the regular workshop and business meeting held Monday, Nov. 14, the board approved the district Comprehensive Plan. The plan will now go to the state for review.
Elementary school principals Chris McComb and Greg Adams discussed the third through sixth grade PSSA results.
McComb noted the elementary PSSA scores dropped as the tests transitioned to the new PA Core Standard in 2015. And although the schools made a slight improvement in math scores on 2016, the English Language Arts scores slightly declined.
Scores from the two Montrose elementary schools were compared to other schools in the county for the board.
Adams provided information to the board regarding student “growth” – one area now charted in data and used create the School Performance Profile score.
He said the district needs to better analyze its curriculum to see where the standards are not being addressed, as well as look as best practices and remediation efforts.
Adams said the district needed to focus more on academic solutions, and although teachers have been actively involved in the Professional Learning Communities over the past year, more attention needs to be given to this area, with other concerns put on hold until curriculum and academic issues are on track, he said.
Several students approached the board about the reinstating the field hockey team and presented the board with a petition from students who wanted to either participate or be spectators of the sport.
Boyce said the district would explore the PIAA rules and regulations as to what would be needed to reestablish a team.
A school board meeting will be held on Monday, Dec. 5 in the high school auditiorium for the purpose of reorganization. The regular workshop and business meeting will also be held on that date.

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