• Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

Professional support staff work well with Shikellamy

ByJulie J. Helfer

Jun 12, 2022

June 12—SUNBURY — Representatives of a professional services agency hired by the Shikellamy School District say they had a successful school year and were able to transition employees into their new roles.

Representatives from ESS, New Jersey, spoke with the school board on Tuesday and explained that they were able to stay at 89% of their full hiring capacity throughout the school year.

The group was hired in June last year by a 6-3 vote when the district and members of the Shikellamy School District Educational Support Professionals Association could not reach an agreement, leaving nearly 65 people in vacations.

Superintendent Jason Bendle said ESS entered the district last year and provided services with virtually no issues.

“I want to salute everything you have done in the transition,” he said.

Board chair Wendy Wiest agreed with Bendle and said the support staff are doing a good job.

ESS said it was able to hire 17 of the 65 furloughed people and has since filled the rest of the positions.

Bendle said all hires were local residents.

The employee dismissal issue became a heated battle, but in January a ruling by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Department of Labor and Industry’s Mediation Office ruled in favor of the district, saying they had done everything right. .

Arbitrator Thomas Leonard said the collective agreement does not prevent the district from passing such a resolution to request proposals for contracting out secretarial, paraprofessional and helper services.

The 12-page decision ruled in favor of the district and denied the association’s grievance.

The grievance was filed on December 18, 2021, alleging that the Shikellamy School Board’s resolution which directed the superintendent to issue a request for proposals for the contracting out of secretarial, paraprofessional and helper services provided by the unit trading was illegal. The association claimed this triggered the contracting out process and violated the collective agreement. The district had denied the association’s grievance and the association filed the case for arbitration, according to court documents.

On June 16, 2021, 63 members of the Shikellamy School District Educational Support Professionals Association were terminated after the school board voted 6-3 to outsource services after the union and district could not reach an agreement.