Members of the Harrisburg Education Association voted today to rescind their ratification of its latest agreement with the Harrisburg City School District. Union leadership called for the vote after discovering that the school board failed to formally approve the teachers’ contract. The union membership had approved the tentative pact last August.
“This afternoon, we voted to rescind the contract that the school board never officially ratified in the first place,” said HEA President Sherri Magnuson.
Magnuson pointed to the school district’s drastically changed financial circumstances, which came to light after revelations about massive accounting errors by the district’s administration.
The Harrisburg School District recently discovered that it had a $22.5 million surplus instead of a projected $4.5 million deficit.
With the vote to rescind the new contract union leaders say the former contract agreement will remain in place.
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During a school board meeting Friday night, Chief Recovery Officer Gene Veno presented an amended recovery plan to restore half of the amount of money cut from salaries this year. He also said there would be no more salary cuts after that. The original recovery plan called for an additional 5 percent cut next year.
The new plan also does not raise taxes for the next two years. However, it leaves the possibility of that happening in fiscal years 2017 and 2018.
In addition, the plan restores full-day kindergarten next school year.
“The recalibrated plan is fair for everybody. As I said, the taxpayers, they’re the stockholders of this district and you’ve got to address them,” said Veno.
Veno said fully restoring the teachers’ salaries and elimination of all future tax increases is “not achieveable within the the currently forecast finances of the district.”
The school board has 30 days to vote on the revised plan, which will also have to be approved by the state Department of Education.