According to the 34-page report, the teachers were asking for an average 5.5 percent increase each year, while the district wanted no increase in the first year and less than a 1 percent increase in each of the remaining two years.
The report was written by Joseph B. Bloom of the state Labor Relations Board. Such "fact-finding," which is not binding on either side, is one of a series of steps required under Act 88, which was passed by the state legislature last year to minimize the number of school strikes.
If the board rejects the proposal again, the two sides have the option of accepting further mediation, including non-binding arbitration. The teachers also have the option of going on strike.
Marple Newtown Education Association member Jerry Williams said the fact- finder's recommendation was fair, allowing the teachers to stay even with inflation.
But board member Patrick Kennedy said that during the 1980s and early '90s, the teachers received raises that outpaced the cost of living. So even if they lose a little ground now, he said, they are still well ahead over the long run.
Full-time teachers' salaries range from $31,500 to $58,500, depending on years served, position and education level.
Kennedy also said the fact-finder should have given the teachers more responsibility for paying for health care costs. Co-payments for health care have become a national trend, Kennedy said, and teachers should not be exempt.
But Williams said when it came to health care, the teachers made a lot of concessions.
The report recommends increasing the major medical deductible, creating a Blue Shield deductible, and requiring the teachers to co-pay $5 a month for dental coverage. The district wanted the teachers to co-pay for all health care.
By accepting the proposal, the teachers approved eliminating the Service Recognition Award - a cash retirement award based on years experience in the district - that the district wanted to abolish. The fact-finder recommended discontinuing the award because it cost the district $980,000 for 36 recipients from 1990 to 1993.
Association president Peg Clothier said the board might also balk on other noneconomic points, such as a "Just Cause" provision. The provision, which the fact-finder recommended in some cases, allows for a third party to judge teacher-administration labor disputes.
But board President Robert Yori said the board's main concern was economic issues.
While the union has expressed outrage that the board did not accept the proposal, both Kennedy and Yori said the fact-finder's report gave them hope that the two sides could hammer out a solution.
"For the most part I'm in agreement with it," Yori said, adding that he thinks that the dispute will be resolved when the two sides go into arbitration.
The fact-finder's report is available to the public at the board secretary's office in the Marple Newtown High School.