The York City Education Association gave a thumbs down to the school district's proposal for a wage freeze and other salary concessions Tuesday.
And the union president for York City teachers pointed a stern finger at the state's inadequate school funding.
The teachers voted down nearly all of York City School District's cost-savings proposals at a membership meeting as the district searches for ways to balance its 2012-13 budget. York City started the budget process with a $19 million deficit.
Union president Kim Schwarz said teachers voted against:
* A wage freeze for next year. Schwarz said teachers already accepted a wage freeze this year, making back-to-back freezes harder to handle.
* Increases in health insurance contributions, co-pays and deductibles. The district was willing to increase coverage in life insurance and other areas, Schwarz said.
* Subtracting six paid days from the contract.
* Cutting the pay for stipend positions, such as tutors and coaches, in half.
* Using the state's new teacher evaluation tool next year. The district had been using it in a pilot mode. The evaluation tool uses student achievement data as a new factor instead of just traditional methods such as classroom observation.
Teachers felt it wasn't fair to use the new model when they are also facing increased class sizes and support staff cuts, Schwarz said.
"It was overwhelming, the idea of having to add that to their plate," Schwarz said.
Teachers did agree to take away two union positions at the Bearcat Den, the district's concession stand at Small Field. The stand will now be staffed by non-union members and students as a cost savings.
Precarious position: Schwarz said the union understands the precarious financial position the school district is in.
The primary fault is with the state and Gov. Tom Corbett for slashing education funding, she said, which greatly hampers a district that so heavily relies on state funding because of a poor tax base. Corbett has proposed once again not funding charter school tuition reimbursement, among other cuts, which costs York City millions of dollars.
"We're not pointing the finger at administration. Teachers can't fund education (through wage concessions). The state needs to fund education," Schwarz said.
Teachers are hesitant to sign up for another round of concessions, she said, when the outcome is uncertain.
"It's a trust thing," Schwarz said.
District's reaction: Superintendent Deborah Wortham said she understands the teachers' stance, especially since they already took a wage freeze and had about 140 members furloughed this year.
"That was always a possibility they wouldn't accept it in total or in part. We understand," Wortham said.
Wortham didn't have a specific cost savings for the entire proposal, but said it was significant. To offset the loss of that opportunity, cuts elsewhere will be needed, she said.
Both sides said a dialogue is still open, although Schwarz said she doesn't expect the district to make a similar proposal again in coming weeks.
"We won't close the door to communications with the district," Schwarz said.
- Reach Andrew Shaw at 505-5431 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ydblogwork