COAL TOWNSHIP - An estimated $40,000 in concessions from Shamokin Area School District administrators was formally approved by the school board during a special meeting Thursday.

Under the existing Act 93 agreement with 12 administrators, they will now pay 5 percent of the premiums for health care, vision and dental coverage. With the exception of the 2012-13 school year, they had not been required to pay anything toward the coverage. A stipend for uncovered health expenses was lowered from $4,000 to $1,250.

A district match of tax-deferred annuities for the administrators was lowered from 4 to 3 percent, and mileage reimbursement to other district buildings was eliminated, with the exception of travel to Northwestern Academy.

Disability coverage is offered at 60 percent of annual salary, up to $6,000 a month, and is capped at 60 months. It had previously been offered until the age of 62.

The savings are estimated annually through the end of a binding agreement that ends in 2018. The figure could change after 2016 when the district's existing health care contract expires.

Administrators were extended a benefit for their cooperation: personal days were increased from five to seven days annually. As many as 14 can be accumulated.

The 12 administrators covered under Act 93 include the elementary and high school principals and assistant principals, of which one is the federal programs coordinator; special education supervisor, curriculum coordinator, supervisor and assistant supervisor of building and grounds, dean of students, technology coordinator, director of food and nutrition and the athletic director.

Both the district superintendent and business manager have separate contracts and are not affected by the terms of the Act 93 agreement.

Concessions to the agreement had previously been agreed upon for a single school year, 2012-13, at a time when about $5 million had to be cut from the district's budget. Included were a salary freeze and a 1 percent contribution for health benefits. In turn, the district extended the length of the agreement from 2016 to 2018.

Charles Shuey, school board director and head of the negotiating committee, again acknowledged that the administrators could have rejected any negotiations to the contract. Instead, he said they led by example.

The changes come at a time when the district and its unions - the education association and AFSCME - are engaged in contract negotiations. Both unions have been working under the terms of expired contracts since last July.

Negotiations with the teachers union began in January and both sides have made proposals. Progress seems to have stalled, and the union had voted to authorize the use of a strike. Its perceived effect was seemingly stymied by this year's September start of school, perhaps a calculated move by the school board. The start of school had for years begun in late August. The later start doesn't change how long the union can strike, but it does prevent it from lasting through a Labor Day holiday, preventing the perception of a prolonged work stoppage.

In other business, the school board amended Tyler DiRienzo's contract start date from June 23 to July 1. The son of new head varsity football coach Pat DiRienzo, he was hired last week to lead the district's Gets FIT program, a three-year federally funded initiative. Health benefits are not offered with the position.

An agreement with Safety Net Counseling was reached for the 2014-15 school year, as was the distribution of IDEA funds totaling $464,133 through the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit for next school year.