Dallastown strikes deal with teachers union, ends standoff

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
Ellen Connelly talks changes in her classroom at Dallastown Area Middle School Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Desks in the classroom have been rearranged to accommodate social distancing. Bill Kalina photo

The Dallastown Area school board and teachers union ratified a two-year staff contract, ending a monthslong dispute that almost led to a strike. 

The Dallastown Area Education Association voted Wednesday night to ratify the deal, while the Dallastown Area School District  board voted 9-0 Thursday night to ratify it. Union President Ellen Connelly declined to share how many of the union's 415 members voted in favor of the contract. 

The first year of the contract includes a salary freeze and no change to health care benefits. The second year includes a 1.25% raise and improvements to employees' health insurance options, including a new 10% co-insurance plan option. According to a union news release Thursday, employees' current health care premium will double in the second year. 

The district did not reach an agreement on the contract for the current school year, so Superintendent Joshua Doll said the contract will cover July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2022. 

Contract negotiations lasted more than a year, Connelly said. Union members voted last year to authorize a strike starting March 16, which according to the release was a result of the district's solicitor refusing to meet with union officials for nearly six weeks. 

More:Dallastown teachers union threatens to strike

More:Dallastown teachers cancel possible strike after draft deal reached

The district avoided a strike by reaching a tentative agreement on the contract in late February, before solidifying the agreement through the recent vote. 

Dallastown's board President Ronald Blevins thanked the union for making "significant financial concessions" in consideration of the district's budget issues. Dallastown is currently dealing with a large deficit because of a $2.5 million funding oversight from 2020. 

"The process was certainly longer than any of us had hoped for," Blevins said. "But I am very pleased with the outcome."

Blevins said district officials are beginning preparations for the next contract negotiations in a few months in hopes to avoid the issues that came up during the previous negotiations.