Mt. View teachers engulf board meeting
By Tom Fontana
It wasn’t quite a tsunami, but a sea of blue flowed into the Mt. View School District board room on Monday night, Dec. 16.
About 50 district teachers wearing color-coordinated shirts packed the directors’ meeting, giving the impression of a wave of solidarity, but none spoke up with any explanation for the titanic congregation. Once row after row was filled and there was no more space for chairs on deck, some of the aqua-attired were forced to float along the walls of the room.
The meeting ended without any public mention of why so many educators ventured out in the iceberg-like 14-degree weather rather sail home to grade papers.
After the meeting, one district employee did speak anonymously to the Independent when asked about the faculty fashion phenomenon.
“We haven’t had a contract in two years,” she stated. “Group of teachers will start attending board meetings, eventually we’ll speak up.”
When pressed further as to the contract demands of the Mountain View Education Association (the teacher’s union), she replied, “We at least want the same as we had before, and even that was a crappy contract.”
Thomas Stoddard, who is the chairman of the board’s labor relations committee, has been meeting monthly with representatives of the MVEA, but said the December 9 meeting had been cancelled due to weather conditions. (Stoddard was elected president of the board in its recent reorganization.)
Ultimately, the gathering seemed to be a ‘shot over the bow’ by the teachers in anticipation of further contract negotiations.
A few of the teachers did speak up in reaction to high school principal Robert Presley’s request that the board approve a ‘dual enrollment’ agreement with Lackawanna College. The program would allow Mt. View students to earn college credits for specific courses at the high school for a fee to Lackawanna College of $100 per credit. Presley said each course would be worth three credits.
“I’m concerned that those credits are not a guaranteed transfer to another school if a student decides not to attend Lackawanna College,” director Roy Twining stated.
Presley told Twining that, in fact, the credits can be transferred to any college or university in the Commonwealth, but not necessarily to schools beyond the state borders.
“I just want to be sure parents know that,” Twining insisted.
Presley assured the board that parents and students would be informed of all aspects of the program.
A few teachers questioned how a high school course can serve as equal to a college course, and were skeptical that a college would accept a high school course for degree credit.
Presley explained that the college chooses the course on that merit, and only five courses would be offered.
“If there aren’t at least 10 students signed up for the course,” he added, “the course will not be offered.
He added that if a Lackawanna College course a student wanted to take is not offered at Mt. View, the student has the option to take the course at the college.
The board unanimously approved the pact with Lackawanna College.
Presley also asked the board to reconsider approval for the district to pay the costs of fees and transportation for tournament participation by all of the district’s sports programs.
“Right now, the booster clubs pay the fees,” Presley explained, “and the players have to find their own transportation, some of them driving themselves. I’m not comfortable with that because of the possibility of an accident.”
At a board meeting in November, he also argued that participation in tournaments could save the district money. He offered a cost comparison – dual meets vs. tournaments – that the board requested from him last month.
“A single tournament can earn as much as three league participation points,” he told the board, “but dual meets only earn one. If transportation cost is the issue, one trip to a tournament can replace three dual tournament trips and still earn the same number of participation points.”
Presley also cited a new league rule that requires a third official at varsity basketball games. “This is an extra cost of $66 per game,” he said. “And for wrestling, the fee for an official is $73.”
The board, by unanimous consent, gave Presley the authority to schedule tournaments, in conjunction with district athletic director Jan Price, based on cost savings to the district.
Newly-seated board member Jason Richmond prompted a short discussion about the possibility of charging admission to district indoor sports events, as do many other school districts. One objection to that proposal was the cost to larger families, and Richmond pointed out that some school districts offer a season pass for families.
The discussion ended with no consideration of an admission charge at this time.
A representative of Mid Atlantic Energy Services presented the board with a proposal to serve as an ‘energy broker’ for the district, and research alternative companies to provide electrical service based on the lowest market price.
He said he could inform the board of the lowest price and ‘lock’ the district into a 17-month contract at that price, creating a financial savings to the district.
Stoddard said the board could not commit to a contract at that meeting without further consideration, and probably would not consider the proposal until a meeting in January.