The Upper Perkiomen School Board and the Upper Perkiomen Education Association (UPEA) announced Monday they reached a tentative contract agreement after more than nine months of negotiations. Teachers in the district have been working without a contract since June 30.
The details of the contract, however, are being closely guarded by both parties until the school board votes on the agreement at Thursday night’s meeting.
Members of the UPEA started the 2013-14 school year Aug. 26 without a contract for the first time in its history. According to district administrators, the group has never gone on strike since its inception.
Members of the UPEA voted to ratify the tentative agreement at a meeting sometime Monday, according to a joint press release issued by both groups. The press release went on to state details of the contract still need to be finalized, but both teams are working to ratify the agreement “as quickly as possible.”
“I believe it’s a fair contract,” said School Board President Bill Scott on Tuesday. “I can’t go into details until after Thursday night but I think it’s something the school district should be able to live with. We’ll hear all the board members and their opinions then.
“But for the last nine months we have worked very hard on this contract. With both sides working diligently we have been able to come to an agreement.”
Scott said the two groups met throughout the summer, with a break in July, and last worked on the agreement in late September. Lawyers, he said, are finalizing language in the document.
UPEA President Bob LaSalle said he was unable to comment on specific counts as to Monday’s tally, but did say more members of the UPEA voted to reject this contract than in any of the previous five contract votes.
LaSalle also said for the first time the two groups required someone from the outside, a state-appointed mediator, to help “move things along.”
“The process itself was difficult,” he noted. “We had stated earlier that we didn’t want this to be a distraction to the community or the kids we serve. I am happy to say it wasn’t an issue. Everyone came in to do their job every day with the highest level of professionalism. No one complained that we came back and worked four weeks without a paycheck…I am very comfortable saying that you couldn’t ask for a better group of teachers. I thank them for their dedication to our community and for their patience and support during this process.”
District administrators said members of the UPEA were paid Aug. 16 and Sept. 13 according to a previous agreement between both parties that eliminated an Aug. 30 paycheck this year. That change means paychecks will be issued 26 weeks, instead of 27 weeks.