It’s back to the drawing board for the Phoenixville Area School District and its teachers after the school board, by a 6-2 vote, rejected the recommendations of an independent mediator that was assigned to help end the ongoing CBA dispute.
“The Board is not comfortable accepting the report and recommendations at this time,” board president Paul Slaninka said after the October 26 vote, according to a press release from the district.
The board will now, in accordance with Pennsylvania law, hold a second vote on the recommendation sometime between November 6 and November 11. The public vote has not yet been scheduled.
Frustrated by the pace of its negotiations with the Phoenixville Area Education Association—the union and the school board have been attempting to come to terms on a new CBA for over 30 months—the school board made a request in August to the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) to appoint an independent fact finder to the case.
The mediator would conduct a hearing, interrogate both parties, and make a non-binding recommendation on the terms of a new contract within 40 days of her appointment. For the recommendation to take effect, both the school board and the union would have to accept it in its entirety within ten days.
On September 18, the PLRB appointed Diana S. Mulligan to the case. Mulligan conducted a hearing on October 12 and issued a report to the school board and the union on October 22.
It’s unclear what the school board found objectionable about the recommendation, as its contents will be confidential until they’re released by the PLRB.
The Phoenixville Area Education Association, according to union spokesman Ruthann Waldie, will be voting on the recommendation the evening of November 1.