JEFFERSON TWP — The three members of the South Butler School District nonbinding arbitration panel have voted to approve the agreement they created after hearing both sides' arguments and considering two previous fact-finding reports.
The teachers have been working under their old contract for four years as the two sides have battled over wage increases and other issues and endured a teachers strike from March 15 to April 3 before moving to the next step, a nonbinding arbitration panel.
None of the three panel members would comment on the specifics of the agreement until it is voted upon by the school board and the teachers' union.
The school board meets tonight, and district solicitor Tom Breth said he expects the board to vote on the arbitrator's agreement.
“The board will meet in executive session (before the public meeting) to discuss the award, and if they are prepared, they will take action this evening,” Breth said this morning.
The arbitrators agreed on the award a few days shy of the 20 days they had to come up with an agreement, and all three voted to approve the award.
If both the teachers' union and the school board vote to approve the arbitrators' award, it becomes the new contract between the teachers and the district.
David Breen, the Pittsburgh attorney and certified state arbitrator who served as the neutral member of the panel, would only say that a unanimous vote on a nonbinding arbitration panel is not unusual.
Tom King, a longtime Butler attorney and solicitor for many school districts, served as the school board's arbitrator.
Pat Andrekovich, an experienced UniServ negotiator in the county who represents the Butler School District, is the arbitrator for the South Butler Education Association.
Brooke Witt, the UniServ negotiator for the teachers, said on Wednesday morning she had not yet seen the final arbitrators agreement, but would not comment until the teachers vote.
She said the agreement will be presented to the teachers on Tuesday and they will vote on Wednesday.
Witt said in May that she had high hopes for the experienced and knowledgeable panel.
“If anyone can get it done, they can,” Witt said at that time.
If either side votes to reject the panel's agreement, negotiations will restart.