Montrose teachers: Staff morale low

Montrose Area teachers spoke at the Monday, May 8 school board meeting, about their passion for working in the district but also noted staff morale was low.
Ann Lathrop, a third grade teacher at Lathrop Street Elementary and Montrose Area graduate, urged the board to work with the education association to find a resolution to the ongoing contract dispute.
“There is an ‘us vs. them’ mentality,” she said. “I asked that we work together and move forward as a team.”
Emotional support teacher Julie Fraiser said she wants to come to work and have good morale. “Right now, I don’t think it’s there,” she said. “I want to come to work and feel valued.”
Montrose Education Association president and biology teacher Teri Evans said she felt a good dialogue started at the April board meeting, but that did not last through to the negotiation session.
Teacher Todd Legg added, “It seems a the last board meeting some eyes were opened on board members who did not know what was going on.” He advocated the board and union meet face-to-face without lawyers.
“There numerous people looking at the door – looking to lose money to get out the door,” Legg said. “There’s one set of people who suffer. I don’t think that’s what anyone of us wants to happen.”
Board member Karl Wimmer said, “We feel the same way,” and said the board would be open to holding public negotiation sessions.
Through discussion between board members and the audience, it was said that a mediator was used at the April negotiation session, and members of the MEA negotiations team were told the board did not want to meet face-to-face.
Board member Gloria Smith said she was not in favor of using a mediator but said that when the board and MEA negotiators came together the talks turned contentious.
Smith said, “We need to work together and get this over with and get it done.”
The board approved having PSBA write the job descriptions for support staff and administration; and complete a wage study for the support staff. Smith cast the lone “no” vote to the proposal.
Support staff job descriptions have not been updated since 2002. Board president Doug Wilcox said PSBA could also look at the legal ramifications of the job descriptions to make sure they are in compliance with current labor law.
The school calendar for seniors was amended to reflect the use of two teacher in-service days from September and an addition of a Saturday, June 17 graduation practice as Act 80 exception days in order to have the 12th graders complete the required educational days.
The school calendar was revised with the final day of class for students and teachers now set at June 21.
The board also approved a cooperative agreement with the Elk Lake and Mountain View school districts for football beginning with the 2018 fall sports season, subject to PIAA approval.
Montrose ended its football co-sponsored team at the request of a former coach. Several requests had been made to the board to reconsider the joint team.

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