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Mon, Sep 01, 2014

Union & Board air differences at Wyoming Area

Union & Board air differences at Wyoming Area

WA board Pres John Bolin & former Pres Frank Cassarella

The tension between the Wyoming Area Teachers’ Union and the board has increased over the last month
   As you know, at January’s meeting, about 35 teachers stood outside with picket signs prior to the board meeting.  The same thing happened at this week’s past meeting.
   The Union took a full page ad out in the Citizens’ Voice last Sunday, however, I did not read it.  In response, the board posted on the district’s web site the  following

The Board has offered:
     The teachers of Wyoming Area have rejected a Fair Deal including raises and health benefits.
     Our nation, state and district are facing an economic crisis.  Our Administration has taken a pay freeze and have agreed to 8% premium share for their health benefits. Our Board has offered job security, pay increases and comprehensive benefits - the teachers have REJECTED the offer.

FIRST THE FACTS:
     The union claims the School Board "has rejected several state mediator settlement proposals" - FALSE
      Rather, the School Board rejected one "flawed" mediator proposal which contained a $400,000 salary error the state fact-finder made.  (The District has back-up documentation including e-mails confirming the error).  

  • The School Board properly rejected a Fact-Finder Report which contained the same $400,000 salary error.
  • The last proposal the teachers offered would result in a $1,722,000 increase in costs to the taxpayers.
  • The teachers' last proposal would amount to a 19% raise to the teachers.
  • The teachers' last proposal would reduce their health insurance deductibles from $100/$300 to zero.
  • The teachers' last proposal did not include premium share for their health insurance.  Total cost for teachers' health benefits is over $2 million dollars.
DISTRICT PROPOSAL:
  • The District's Fair Proposal was put in writing and rejected by the Teachers.
  • The District offered a four year contract with an approximate 6% raise over the four years.
  • The District offered a Health Insurance Plan (Blue Cross PPO) with a 250/500 deductible.
  • The District offered in year 3 of the 4 year contract that the teachers would contribute the lesser of 1.5% of salary or 5% of insurance premium towards health insurance.
Finally, the Union has refused to schedule an extended Negotiation Session to attempt to resolve the Contract.

   This back and forth for all to see is actually a good thing.  In the past, all negotiations were held behind closed doors.  With this, it is up to the public to put pressure on either side to move this forward.
   Like I’ve said in the past, this is a public relations war.  And, whomever can come out on top, will see the fruits of their labor.

Member Opinions:
By: Nanteen on 3/2/13
Private sector workers dont get raises or smaller ones than they thought they would when times are bad. Public sector workers should play by the same rules.

How about we give you a higher raise but eliminate TENURE.

By: Dallas on 3/2/13
Teachers you are a JOKE! No health care premiums or deductibles, that's what you propose? I guess you thought the public would not see your proposal, well we have now. Signed, A neighbor, taxpayer and your fedup employer.

By: makitrite on 3/3/13
Do these "teachers" realize what they are doing to the community and our futures? Do you realize that in Luzerne County on 17 percent of the population has a bachelors degree? Do you know what kind of incomes they receive. Look at how many are living in poverty around you. appx. 1 of 10 people have no jobs to go to. many are elderly and live on fixed incomes. Others can only get part time jobs because that is how employers get around paying benefits and those that do have jobs pay 25-50% plus co-pays and deductibles towards their insurance.
I'd like to do a study in the valley regarding how many teachers got their jobs because of who they know or who they are related to. You see these board members come in long enough to get their family and friends jobs while doing nothing for those that elected them and then leave after they are done with their mission of nepotism. How many really good teachers are in our schools looking out for our kids best interest.I am sick of hearing that "I could have been a teacher too". Yes, I could have but I didn't but that doesn't mean I should pay for your lifestyle. The kids of today will be in debt for the great portion of their adult lives while teachers expect to have their masters/doctorate etc plus mileage to be paid by the taxpayer. Get in the game teachers; many of your neighbors and their children are hungry on a daily basis in part by your expectations of what a "fair" contract is. No one begrudges anyone a good living but how about we decrease the salaries; decrease the size of the class rooms so the teachers aren't "overloaded"; this in turn will allow our children a better education and the teachers won't be stressed. Then the teachers can also work 8.5 hour days roughly 365 days a year like the taxpayers that support them.

By: headshaker on 3/3/13
Makitrite,
You said that "nobody begrudges anyone a good living."

You just did. Read your own post. Your entire post begrudges teachers from making a good living.

And who do you know that works 365 days a year?

By: Warrior4 on 3/3/13
Anyone who is not a teacher thinks teachers jobs are easy, that they only work 6-7 hours a day, that they get the summers off, that they make a fortune and live the high life. Unless you are a teacher you have NO idea what a teacher's day includes, how long and hard they work or what their financial situation is! Teachers educate our future and, just in case you haven't noticed, Wyoming Area is one of the top districts in the state - not because of the administration or board but because of the TEACHERS and their support staff.
I agree their needs to be a resolution - yes I agree teachers need to pay something into their healthcare but they also need a fair contract. Remember - what you see here is only what the board posted on the school website (which I must state the students use everyday so it really should not be posted on the site)and says they offered - we do not know what the union offered - there is 2SIDES to every story.
And NO I am not a teacher - I have children in Wyoming Area and I know what a great education they have received and what wonderful teachers they have had. If all you want to do is bash the WA teachers than move out of the district and, if you have kids, put them into another school, like W-B area or Hazelton and see what kind of education they get.

By: makitrite on 3/3/13
Headshaker,
Ask anyone trying to make ends meet! they not only work 365 days a year but probably two jobs, none of which probably provides benefits. Many jobs are such that if you don't work, you don't get paid--let alone have weekends, holidays, Easter/Thanksgiving breaks and be off summers (and if you leave work after 6 1/2 hours you don't get paid the extra two.
I'm not saying they don't deserve a raise but it is time they chip in for benefits.
First of all, what is wrong with the union and the school district by the time this contract get settled...if a strike is averted, it will be time to start negotiations again.
And, no; I am not begruding anyone, I (and many other taxpayers),am asking them to be reasonable. Give a little to get a little.

By: makitrite on 3/3/13
Warrior4,

No one is bashing. This is a discussion forum. Look at city data.com for the facts; that is all I was pointing out. This is exactly why people don't get involved (unless they have something to gain)...when someone has an opinion that is not popular or the norm, they are considered anti(whatever).
And yes, as with every profession. There are good, even excellent...I just feel sorry for the kids that get the teachers at the other end of the spectrum that we can do nothing about because of tenure. Look at Pittston Area and the teacher caught on video bullying...why would anyone have ever thought to put in a contract (and why on earth was it approved) that if a teacher does indeed bully someone it is wiped off their record at the end of the year. We expect more and have tighter rules in place for the students.

By: Sowhassup on 3/3/13
What would be wrong with an average of the last three settled contracts in Luzerne County in terms of pay and benefits? How would that be unreasonable to anyone? True, it wouldn't satisfy the most strident Teacher Bashers, who think teachers should work for $20K a year, pay half their health care, and cut grass and trim hedges in the summer..but that's only about 10% of you, right?

By: themanager on 3/3/13
I think what the board has proposed is too good of an offer. 5% towards health care is a joke. They should be paying 20%. Most people pay 50% and work all year without a 3 month vacation. I say the teachers should pay 0% when they are working and 100% for the three months they are off. For once, the school board is thinking about the tax payers, unlike past years. Also, is it possible the reason why Wyoming Area ranks high on PSSA's might have something to do with the fact that they stop their normal studies for a couple of weeks to go over and over and over the questions that will be on the test so they will score high. If they are taught so well, it should not take weeks to refresh their memories!!!!! Unless the school board is lying, I think it is a great offer, maybe too great.

By: mikel on 3/3/13
Makitrite,
After reading your post, I think I know who you are...
You were that kid in my class that just barely made it through school, showing up only to disrupt the learning of everyone else there trying to learn and better themselves. Your parents had little value for their own educations, nevermind yours. Now you are a parent yourself,working one or two lousy jobs, miserable, trying to provide for a family. It must be tough. That's why I paid attention, got good grades and a college education, and am among that 17% you mentioned with at least a Bachelor's degree in this county. I have a family now, too. I want my kids in that 17% as well. I value my education and the one my kids receive as well. I want them educated by people who are educated as well, like me, not like you. Teachers do not have an easy job nowadays, especially now that your kids are in their class, probably making things much more difficult for the teacher, and for my children as well. You know, the same way you did for me.... You cannot expect a quality education without a quality teacher. You cannot expect an educated person to become a teacher to accept a lower pay and many more headaches than other that are educated because people like you see no value in the service they provide.
I pay towards my health insurance. I don't disagree with you that maybe teachers need to start contributing to theirs as well, under the circumstances. If they make some concessions regarding healthcare, I still believe they earn every penny they make, and the concessions, as far as I am concerned, are not nearly a condemnation of anything they did wrong, don't deserve,or shouldn't have. Maybe it's time to break the cycle...education matters to some of us,but should to all.

By: makitrite on 3/4/13
Well Mikel,
You are quite incorrect.
But I'm glad you live in a glass house and feel yourself entitled to throw stones.
Again, shows the mentality of people with the inability to carry on an intelligent discussion.

By: Jay on 3/4/13
Mikel..tht post shows your true colors...I guess your just better than everyone else.ah to hell with it,let me just ask...what the hell makes you feel your better than everyone else.

By: mikel on 3/4/13
makitrite and Jay,
I'm no better than anyone, just appreciative of what was done for me by the teachers I had, and appreciative of what is being done for my kids today.
Because my opinion, a positive outlook and appreciative praise of educators, differs from yours certainly is not evidence that I cannot carry on an intelligent discussion.
Again, a quality education, above all, is worth the cost and the students of Wyoming Area are certainly receiving one.

By: M.Akesense on 3/4/13
What is it that the educated teachers of the district do not understand? The budget is not being met, the superintendent is vastly overpaid through politics. The current teachers want more and taxpayers want less expenditure. Instead of instructional studies maybe someone with a degree in education should have minored in economics. There is actually no maybe, contribute or get out.Lastly, either a teacher is a good educator or not, salary and benefits will not improve performance.

By: makitrite on 3/4/13
There are those of us that not only want to see our own children's futures prosper but those around us too;there are children that are indeed less fortunate than mine and obviously yours, but I don't teach my children hooray for me and the hell with them. I teach my children that something I (we) may do or say in that child's life may mean the difference between their success instead of the less fortunate means in which they are living - through no fault of their own. I believe in building all children's self esteem; not just the priviledged.
Yes, your children are fortunate Mikel but when I hear people like you, I am hopeful you are not a teacher and I aspire never to have the same thought processes as you.

By: Sowhassup on 3/4/13
I hate seeing things degrade to name calling, but I guess this exchange underlines the difficulty the district is in. Some faction of the Board or Administration needs to take a leadership role and define the future of the district, as well as what it will cost to sustain that future. However, judging from the animosity that continues to be exchanged between all parties on a continuing basis, I don't see that happening any time soon.

By: Warrior4 on 3/4/13
the manager - just so you know all school districts do the same thing - just ask any teacher from any district. It is not just the teachers deciding to stop everything for 2 months - its the district. They have to because the state puts so much emphasis on these tests. This type of 'practicing' for the PSSAs will continue until the state finds a better, more reliable way to test the students and fund the schools.

By: Warrior4 on 3/4/13
the manager - just so you know all school districts do the same thing - just ask any teacher from any district. It is not just the teachers deciding to stop everything for 2 months - its the district. They have to because the state puts so much emphasis on these tests. This type of 'practicing' for the PSSAs will continue until the state finds a better, more reliable way to test the students and fund the schools.

By: Wvsportsnut on 3/5/13
I have only one question. I continuously hear that the district is broke, however, every board session I have attended, money was being spent on nonsense. Where is the money coming from for the following nonsense. For instance, Mr. Bernardi claims on his attack against the teachers union that Administrators took a pay freeze. Why were the two elementary principals each granted a $17,000 increase each over the next two years. The one principal has only been here for two years. Why has the board approved his full doctorate degree to be paid for. Why has all maintenance staff and police staff received a 2.5% raise. Why were secretaries moved into higher payer positions and assigned less job responsiblities. Why, because these are all political moves. Where is the board getting the money when they have none. The newest joke on the street, the board approved a $100,000 construction project on the front entrance to protect the school from "bad people". Have any of them been in the school?????? Anyone could blow out any window at any time. What the hell? Tonight's board meeting, the board will approve a raise for another janitor because Carl Yorina thinks he deserves it. Can anyone see why the teachers are "pissed". We criticize them for their health care perks daily. Is anyone aware that support staff pays nothing into their health care? Does anyone care? No. I am not sure why, I don't get it, I am perplexed. Why is no one complaining that the board attorney gets $10,000 a session from the tax payers for each negotion session with the union. Remember in three years, he has DONE NOTHING. People of Wyoming Area you need to get a clue.

By: benjrodd on 3/6/13
Bolin and Marianacci laying low at the board meetings. Oh yes elections coming up. Be careful John, no decision making for you........another family member in need of a job? Tax payers lets not forget why he's there, to ensure job security for his family. Truly I think we would have more respect for you if you made a decision once in awhile. The only thing Casarella has going for him is he is a outspoken teacher hater. Just wondering, does he contribute to his health care?

By: makitrite on 3/6/13
@ Wvsportsnut
I pointed out in an earlier discussion that if we spin a web of all WA employees (same as Luzerne/Lackawanna Co.; state and federal government, too)"spinning the tangled web" of who is related to who; who knows who; who paid who and who owes who, the web would be more difficult to find our way through than the most complex maze ever designed.
Unfortunately, with such poor voter turnouts; again, on the local and federal level, very little will change and 20 years from now-if not sooner- when there are no workers to support the tax base because everyone is either on welfare; disability, retired...or dead, our local government as well as federal government will crumble. I'd like to say lifestyles will change beyond repair but I think those wheels are already turning; hopes of prosperity for the middleclass is no longer the American dream. Surving paycheck to paycheck is now the norm.

By: llawson on 3/7/13
Just saw the news and I am in disbelief. I was speechless. Wyoming Area needs to immediately ask for the resignation of both Yorina and Cassarella. Yorina, well certifiable to say the least. This man is out of his mind. He is the laughing stock of the valley. EVERY TEACHER CARRY A GUN!!!! My child would be pulled out of that school and my attorney notified. Thanks Frank for letting thousands of people know what doors are open and locked for them to break into the school. CLOWNS!!!! This district is beyond repair until these people are gone. Yorina is dangerous, he needs to go.

By: Queenbee on 3/7/13
Makitrite, your are correct. The Harding ticket is running ONLY to keep the Harding School open. They want to make it a glorified Seminary at the expense of West Pittston, Exeter, West Wyoming and Wyoming taxpayers.
As for the American Dream, you must be asleep to believe in it. Imagine, texting goes on at formal schoolboard meetings, to check on 15 and 16 year old kids. Maybe the real kid is in the audience texting. Can you makitrite? The message will be loud and clear when the polls close, Wyoming Area Taxpayers will vote overwhelmingly that they do not want to pay for a school they can no longer afford. The school should have closed last year. Dr. Casarella was correct by telling it like it is.Enjoy your tax bill!

By: Warrior4 on 3/10/13
I continue to read these posts and am baffled by some of the comments!
WVSports nut - you are EXACTLY right - I said the same thing about the "safety renovation" did anyone notice that the entire first floor, gym entrance, cafeteria is all WINDOWS! If someone wants to get into the school they won't go to the front entrance, they will just shoot out one of the 100 windows on the first floor! Also our teachers are one of the lowest paid in the county yet we have one of the BEST districts - our teachers deserve every penny and like you said - why are these other people getting the raises?
Queenbee - there are other ways to save money for the district - closing SJD makes little sense when you have a school like JFK right in town that could be closed and those students could be moved into schools that are only blocks away from them - And NO I am NOT an SJD parent! You have to consider all the expenses and safety busing all the students from harding and the fact that SJD is one of the nicer schools in the district. LOGIC needs to be used when making a difficult decision like this.
And as for evey teacher carrying a gun - ARE YOU CRAZY?! I don't know of many teachers that would want that responsiblity and what happens when a student gets there hands on one of those guns. Don't be foolish to think it won't happen!


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