Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bradford County in case of Helone G. Wildrick, et al. v. Board of Directors of Sayre Area School District, No. 327 October Term, 1971.
Peter J. O'Brien, for Helone G. Wildrick, et al.
Robert J. Landy, with him Landy & Zeller, for Board of Directors of Sayre Area School District.
Kent H. Patterson, with him Cleckner and Fearen, for amicus curiae, Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
Judges Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr. and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.
[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 613]
This case involves cross appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bradford County dated
[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 614]
March 4, 1975, in which the trial court granted the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Helone G. Wildrick and other professional employes (plaintiffs) against the Sayre Area School District (defendant) for monies representing underpayment of salaries for various school years between 1965 and 1969. The issues presented concern the very complicated statutory schedule of minimum pay for public school teachers. The trial court applied the statutory salary schedule and its steps to a local salary schedule and concluded that the defendant had underpaid the plaintiffs. We hold that the trial court erred.
The plaintiffs are all professional employes of various classifications with different seniority. They sued in assumpsit to recover salary they alleged was owed to each of them for services rendered for the school years 1965-66 and 1971-72. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment. In total, the 46 plaintiffs sought $35,535.00, with interest. The parties agreed that there were no questions of fact to be resolved, and the trial court applied the facts garnered from the pleadings and interrogatories to its interpretation of the applicable statutory provision and granted a summary judgment to some of the plaintiffs (35 teachers) in the amount of $22,060.00, with interest. Both parties appealed to this Court.
The defendant first instituted a local salary schedule for its professional employes in 1958, and for every school year since that time its teachers have received salaries exceeding, by varying amounts, the minimum salary level mandated by the Legislature. We note that a teacher's salary is governed by two factors, the first of which is a "professional employe contract." Each of the 46 plaintiffs had such a contract which specified a dollar amount representing the salary for the given school year. Secondly, the salary in the contract is subject to the minimum salary level set forth
[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 615]
in the Public School Code of 1949, Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, 24 P.S. § 1-101 et seq. Both parties agree that the defendant may not pay less than the minimum salary mandated by the Code. Prior to 1965, Section 1142 of the Code, 24 P.S. § 11-1142 merely provided that a teacher was entitled to receive a certain minimum salary with minimum increments for years of service. School districts throughout the State unilaterally established salary schedules, which almost uniformly set salaries higher than the statutory minimum. These unilateral local salary schedules were based upon ...