What does it mean?
The newly-passed budget doesn’t contain any hidden messages about the fate of the ongoing negotiation with the district’s support staff, which has worked without a contract for the past 2 1/2 years, Heller told the Tribune after Friday’s vote.
“Outsourcing had no influence over the final passing of our budget,” Heller said. “We don’t need to outsource to save ‘x’ number of dollars to comply with what the board passed today because they passed what is currently in place.”
As he sees it, Heller said, outsourcing was simply one part of negotiations.
“Negotiations are not complete, but at this time I feel we are making progress towards coming to a compromise and an agreement that both sides can feel comfortable with,” Heller said. “We aren’t there yet, but we’re working toward that. In my mind, progress is being made.”
The final budget also reinstated funding for Meadville Area Recreation Authority that had been absent in early versions.
“We’re working in collaboration with the rec authority and the Community Action Team committee,” Heller explained. “In the best interest of the community, we’re doing our part to be sure that the (Meadville Area Recreation Complex) becomes a sustainable asset to the greater Meadville community.”
The CAT committee was formed to work with the rec authority and the school board to bridge the communication gap that had resulted in funding for MARC to be eliminated from the Crawford Central budget. Traditionally, the facility has been funded primarily by the school district with additional funding supplied by the City of Meadville and Vernon and West Mead township supervisors.
Funding included in the district budget as passed will allow fourth-grade swimming classes that were removed from the curriculum at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year to be added back to the physical education programming at each of the district’s five elementary schools. All other school-related swimming programs are also back in place, including Meadville Area Senior High School’s swim team.
“The swim team was never up in the air,” Heller said. “We never talked about not offering that.”