Conrad: Board, PAEA getting back on track

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Contract negotiations between groups representing the Punxsutawney Area School District and the Punxsutawney Area Education Association (PAEA) continue, although the two committees will not meet again with a state mediator until Tuesday, Aug. 7.

That’s simply because that date was the one that best suited representatives for both groups and the mediator, according to Gary Conrad, president of the Punxsutawney Area School Board.

“We’re back on track,” he said after Monday’s voting meeting.

When asked if there had been a period that the board and the PAEA had not been on track, Conrad replied, “There was a period when we were kind of stagnant, but we’ve come up with some new ideas. We’re just trying to work through some things and get through a couple little snags.”

The Punxsutawney teachers’ contract expired in June 2011.

Also Monday, during the board’s meeting, board member Jack White discussed an amendment to House Bill 1363, which pertains to a district and a union experiencing yearlong impasses in progress.

The amendment — Section 1., Section 1131-A, reads, “(A) One year after a contract impasse, the Secretary of Education may request a public hearing in the school district of impasse. The public hearing process shall follow the following requirements:

“(1) The hearing shall include testimony from the school board of the district, school district administration, the employee organization and any additional party requested by the Secretary of Education.

“(2) The public shall have 30 days to submit written testimony.
Testimony may be received from experts commenting on the social, emotional and educational well-being of the students in the school district.

“(3) Within 90 days following the public hearing, the Secretary of Education shall issue a report on recommendations regarding the impasse.”
White suggested that the Punxsy district “ask the Secretary of Education to come here, and bring the governor with him, so we can sort this out.”

Also Monday, responding to a question from board member Bob Pascuzzo, Business Manager Susan Robertson said the books on the 2011-12 school year will not close until the end of August, and thus, expenditures have exceeded revenues to the tune of about $900,000 to the district’s fund balance.

However, she anticipates some revenue of around $450,000 coming in before the district closes its books for the 2011-12 school year.