Support staff protestors

St. Marys Area School District support staff workers, including secretaries and children’s aides, gathered outside the high school in protest on May 13.

ST. MARYS — Some of the dust has settled following the uproar that occurred at the May 13 St. Marys Area School Board meeting, says Superintendent Brian Toth.

Groups of district employees gathered outside St. Marys Area High School in protest prior to May’s meeting. Workers including secretaries and children’s aides held bright yellow signs and claimed SMASD is trying to “outsource” them by subcontracting its support staff.

“There has been no resolution to subcontracting,” Toth said. “Since the last meeting, I have been all through the district, and people seem just fine taking care of students. We all continue to treat each other with kindness and respect.”

The intense atmosphere at the meeting was a direct result of “false information” distributed by Pennsylvania State Education Association representative Lucy Harlow, according to Toth. Harlow was confronted by Toth and board member Bert Sorg for “inciting fear” within the district.

“That is not who we are as a district, nor how we act toward each other,” Toth adds.

SMASD would like to maintain the right to subcontract a position when an employee leaves, Toth said.

“In the future, the district can evaluate, for each position, if subcontracting that position would result in a savings or not,” he said. “Thus, current employees will not lose jobs, retirement nor healthcare.”

New employees as of July 1, 2019, will have three “watered-down” retirement options, Toth said.

“The state enacted these new plans last year,” he said. “So, new employees will never be able to have the retirements that current employees have anyway, as per the new law.”

SMASD’s current subcontractors hire locally as it is, Toth said, and this won’t change.

“Taxes and employees will remain local.”

A bargaining session concerning subcontracting will take place Thursday, Toth said. The next SMASB meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday.

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