UNION TWP. – Contract negotiations in the Northwest Area School District, after two years, have reached an impasse, school director and school board secretary Albert Gordon announced at Tuesday night's board meeting.
As a result, Gordon said, the board and representatives of the Northwest Area Education Association have agreed to go to non-binding arbitration. Jack Yanchulis, who is associated with the state arbitration service and who is also listed on the Internet as a state labor mediator, has been designated to compile a report which he is expected to present to the board's negotiating team and the union on, or about, Dec. 10.
Gordon said Yanchulis has been in attendance at recent contract meetings.
Neither Gordon nor Robert Wasilewski of the union would comment about issues related to the impasse. Unofficial sources, however, state that the stalemate centers largely around the cost of premiums for health care insurance coverage. In May, the school board, in order to bargain for a better price on health care, voted to disassociate with the Northeast Pennsylvania School Health Care Trust. It was an action requiring approval by the education association before it can be fully implemented, but there was never any public announcement by the union if its members would oppose or endorse the action.
When asked if health care is a stumbling block, Wasilewski said, I can't discuss it.
Besides Gordon, the board's negotiating team consists of directors Darryl Morgan and Peter Lanza.
In other actions:
• Superintendent Ronald Gervera announced Jennifer Oiler has been retained to succeed Stephanie Russell as director of special education. Oiler mostly was associated with an intermediate unit in the Williamsport area.
• The board approved the transfer of $300,000 from the general fund into a capital projects account.
• A contract to erect a fence around the girls' softball field was awarded to George M. Belachik Co. at a cost of $4,990.
• An unnamed student was expelled for 35 days for violating the district's policy on dangerous weapons.
• The sale of the Garrison building, which sold at public auction for $51,500, was unanimously approved by the board.
• Board President Randy Tomasacci said an executive session conducted in advance of the regular meetings dealt with issues related to the life skills program, employee leave policy and the high school football program.
• Darlene Raire-Thomas and Dominique Nardone were retained as substitute teachers.
• Commendations were also extended to the high school cheerleaders for raising $1,185 for the breast cancer program. In conjunction with the recent observance of Veterans Day, board members Gordon, Ralph Killian and Gerald Conger were cited for their service in U.S. military.
Northwest Area School Board will hold its next meeting and reorganization on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. in the high school library.