Keystone Oaks School District News Article

February 3: President of Keystone Oaks Board of School Directors addresses misinformation regarding negotiations with Keystone Oaks Education Association

Additional information also available on the District’s website -  https://www.kosd.org/DistrictContracts.aspx


MT. LEBANON, PA – Following several recent social media posts, news articles, and emails from community members containing inaccurate or misleading information, Keystone Oaks School Board President Theresa Lydon is providing the following clarifications:


Salary Proposal for the Keystone Oaks Education Association 
The most recent contract offer from the Board of School Directors is for KOEA members to receive their annual pay increase on March 1, 2021. Typically, these individuals would have received their salary increase on September 1, 2020, meaning that the pay freeze is six months and not the entire school year. KOEA members would still move up one step on the salary scale, but the pay increase associated with that step would not take effect until March 1, 2021. 


“No KOEA member is being asked to give up a year of service or a step on the pay scale, and moving up a step on the pay scale is the equivalent of receiving a pay increase” Lydon said. 


“Nearly all other district employees agreed to a salary freeze for the duration of the 2020-2021 school year. And we know that many of our families have endured wage losses this year. We are simply asking that they are in line with what the rest of our community is experiencing,” she added. 


In April 2020, the Board offered KOEA a one-year extension on their current contract. That offer included full-year salary increases for all KOEA members. 


“We try to foster a culture at Keystone Oaks that we are all part of the same team. We recognize that while many in our community have lost their income over the past 11 months, the majority of our employees have not had those same worries because they did not (and have not) receive an interruption in pay at any point,” Lydon said. “Asking employees to accept wage freezes or to maintain a current contract was done generally out of concern for what we were seeing happen to our community,” she added. “It is in no way meant to be disrespectful or to be seen as not valuing our employees.” 


Keystone Oaks Fund Balance

Contrary to popular belief, the district does not have a $6 million pot of money hidden in a storage closet somewhere. About half of the District’s $5.85 million fund balance is earmarked for post-retirement benefits, such as employee pensions and vacation and sick day payouts. 


“Using these funds for any other purpose would be financially irresponsible and unfair to future retirees,” Lydon said. “Especially since KOEA seems to be sure that several of the 52 members at the top of the pay scale will be retiring within the next five years, we want to be sure that those funds are available for their intended purpose.” 


Federal Stimulus Dollars

Between the two stimulus packages that have been passed by the federal government, Keystone Oaks will receive approximately $2.1 million. However, this is non-recurring emergency aid that can be used for a variety of programs and supports related to COVID-19 preparedness and response, as well as initiatives associated with measuring and remediating learning loss and for capital projects. 


“These federal funds are not to be used to balance a district’s budget or to pay for recurring expenses, like salaries and benefits,” Lydon said. “Also, these funds aren’t replacing money the district had already budgeted. They are supplementing our budget by allowing us to make improvements in other areas,” she added. 


Future Contract Negotiations

At this time, neither the Board of School Directors nor the Keystone Oaks Education Association has proposed a meeting to further negotiate the details of the contract. 

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