The West York Area School District will operate next year without 30 adviser and coaching positions after district officials cut the stipends for those positions to save money in this year's budget.
The trimming of positions was approved by the school board in February. The positions had been filled by teachers who earned varying stipends, often between $1,000 and about $2,600, Superintendent Emilie Lonardi said.
Rather than losing the positions, school officials were going to allow teachers to share stipends to continue in their roles, said Lonardi. In other words, instead of two assistant coaches earning $1,000 each, they would have split one $1,000 stipend.
But the teachers' association vetoed that option, saying it was unwilling to change the teaching contract following the cuts.
Cuts: The cuts were made so no program was completely lost, Lonardi said. Paid coaching positions were cut for every team that had more than two coaches. That affects 10 athletic teams at the high school, Lonardi said in February.
For some non-athletic activities that have two paid positions, such as the auditorium director or the freshman class adviser, one was cut.
The individual stipend cuts were small, Lonardi said. But together, they saved the district $77,500.
"Essentially we were able to save a teacher," she said.
Had the district not made those cuts, Lonardi said, another teacher would have been furloughed with the 19 professional staff members who were cut in February.
Volunteers: About 16 staffers had volunteered to split their stipends to continue sharing the responsibilities, Lonardi said. The district had given a tentative green light to do so, because Lonardi said she hadn't thought the teachers' association would have an issue with the split.
"I was surprised they would balk at it," Lonardi said.
But as soon as she realized the association was against splitting stipends, Lonardi said she stopped talk of that process to avoid any hard feelings.
The rates of pay for co-curricular stipends are covered by the union contracts, said Stacy Henry, president of the West York Area Education Association. Changing the rates would require the association to reopen its contract with the district, Henry said.
"At this time we are not willing to do that," she said.
Contract questions: The association will enter negotiations with the district on a new contract in coming months, Henry said. The current teachers' contract expires June 30, 2015.
Lonardi said the district solicitor and a union representative worked to determine whether volunteers can work in those cut positions.
The athletic department will be able to use the same number of volunteer coaches as in previous years, Henry said. But the positions cut in this year's budget will not be allowed to be filled with volunteers, she said.
There is one exception, Henry said: The coach for the middle school wrestling cheerleading team will be able to volunteer for the 2014-15 school year because otherwise the team would have been completely eliminated.
That position is permitted to be filled with a volunteer, with specific language that states it is only for one year and cannot be used to set precedent, Henry said.
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