Professional support staff working well with Shikellamy

Jun 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.

ESS, of New Jersey, representatives, spoke to the school board Tuesday and explained they were able to stay at 89-percent full capacity on hires throughout the school year.

The group was hired in June of last year by a 6-3 vote when the district and members of the Shikellamy School District Educational Support Professionals Association were unable to reach an agreement, thus leaving nearly 65 people furloughed.

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

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

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

ESS reports they were able to hire 17 of the furloughed 65 people and have since filled the rest of the positions.

Bendle said all the hires were local residents.

The issue of furloughing the employees became a heated battle but in January, a ruling by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Bureau of Mediation ruled in favor of the district saying they did everything right.

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

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

The grievance was filed on Dec. 18, 2021, saying the Shikellamy school board’s resolution that directed the superintendent to issue a request for proposals for subcontracting the secretarial, paraprofessional and aide services done by the bargaining unit was illegal. The association claimed that this began the subcontracting process and violated the collective bargaining 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 furloughed after the school board voted 6-3 to outsource the services after the union and the district could not come to an agreement.

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