Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A long way to go

If you read this morning’s Courier Times article, then you already know that there is quite a difference between what the NFT is asking for in the next CBA and what the Board/District is offering.

Here is a link to information compiled by Neshaminy’s Negotiation Committee.

The Courier Times summarized the offers as follows:
· Increase salaries 1 percent annually
· Union to pay 10, 11 and 12 percent toward healthcare premiums over next three years
· Increase K-5 class size ranges from 22-29 students to 27-33 students
· Eliminate $27,500 cash payment on retirement, plus full benefits coverage until 65
· Increase step schedule from 11 to 15 steps by 2010-2011
· Eliminate longevity pay
· Eliminate long-term sub pool
· Increase work days from 188.5 to 190.5
· Increase work hours from 7 to 7.5
· Eliminate recognition of master's degree equivalency
· Change six excused absences to three personal days
· Institute mandatory drug-testing for staff

· Increase salaries 4 percent annually
· No change in health insurance; currently no payment for premiums
· Reduce class sizes from 29 to 27 students in fourth grade, 29 to 28 students in fifth grade, and 35 to 30 students in the middle and high schools
· Increase retirement incentive from $27,500 to $30,000
· Assign no more than three consecutive teaching periods
· Eliminate sister-schooling at the elementary level
· Increase prep periods from five to seven per week
· Allow 12 days per year, or 15 periods per marking period, for individual education plans for special ed teachers
· Cap special ed students at one to every three “regular” students in regular education classes
· Implement required technology education at elementary level
· Implement full-day kindergarten

Start brewing some coffee . . . this may take a while.

Clarification - The Courier Times summary of offers noted above does not accurately reflect the true percent of increases. We are proposing a 1% increase in the SALARY SCHEDULE, which translates into a 3.1% average increase for returning staff after accounting for step movements. The NFT is proposing a 4% increase in the SALARY SCHEDULE, which translates into a 6.1% average increase for returning staff.


Anonymous said...

Further negotiation is needed by both sides, but the teachers union better get more realistic in their demands. I'm a parent who supports and defends our teachers, but zero benefits contribution??? Along with a list of unreasonable demands, the teachers are asking for things that not even I can defend. Please, both sides, GET BACK TO THE BARGAINING TABLE!

TFR1984 said...

Why didn't the NFT accept the fact finders recommendations since it called for virtually no change? That makes the teachers look very greedy.

i must be living in jersey said...

You got that right tfr1984. The teachers aren't looking very reasonable at the moment. But the school board can't just sit back and watch. To the bargaining table everyone (echoing what anonymous said)!

Anonymous said...

Examine the numbers carefully. I agree that the union should pay a fair share but when the board is asking for union to take a cut in every area is not realistic. It is again the money game that this board has been playing all along. I didn't see one idea form the board that shows an educational improvement. Smaller class size and better special ed coverage is the only way to improve the education of students and this came from the union. I can't wait for the Eccles and Webbs, with an assist from Kozoil, to spin this into trashing the teachers which can only do more harm to the district.

let them strike said...

Let them strike. They won't get any support, not from the parents or the taxpayers. There is nothing to negotiate because the board should say that is their final offer take it or leave it. I bet not even the liberal courier times will support them.

i must be living in jersey said...

To the second anonymous, you are saying it's not realistic to ask for a cut in every area. Then why don't you say it's unrealistic for the union to ask for an increase in every area? The contract as is already is much more generous than in surrounding areas, and the teachers want to enhance it. Maybe the district won't get everything it wants with this contract, but major concessions are needed.

I also disagree with your statement about improving education via the contract. It is absurd for the union to ask for fulltime kindergarten as part of the contract. That doesn't even belong in there. I agree with you about class size, but again that shouldn't be covered in a contract. That should be a district/board decision with input from the teachers, but not a contractual requirement.

Anonymous said...

Go to the asbury park press database to look up your child's teacher's salary (http://php.app.com/PAteachers0607/search.php). Are they worth what we are paying them? Now add to that free benefits, a $27,500 retirement payout, free healthcare for retired teachers until 65. We are the 2nd highest paying district in the state. Did I mention that our test scores are declining? We can't keep paying this much. If we don't start cutting back on some of these benefits, we'll have to start cutting educational programs. Then there won't be any students left to teach.

Anonymous said...

Who the heck negotiated the current contract? Was there anyone from the district or board on that negotiation committee? I can't believe the board approved that contract. Whoever approved that contract is to blame for our current situation. They made the contract so good for the teachers that they can't back down. Nice going!

Anonymous said...

There should be mandatory drug testing for whoever made the last contract.

Anonymous said...

To let them strike: What would the seniors of FM say if the government gave them a 1% cola when the cost of living rose 3.5% or if the government tells you that your health insurance increased by 12%. To say let them strike just shows the narrow thinking the board has presented. For the teachers to give back and to not recieve a fair offer(backed by the fact finder) will just lead to a strike that will ultimately hurt the kids and the district. Just look at Pennsbury and you will see what a dig in your heels attitude will do to your district. Just remember what the board has done to this district in recent months with the refurb HS and the hiring mess.

i must be living in jersey said...

Will everyone PLEASE stop posting as anonymous? Give yourself a nickname under the option for “Name/URL”. I want to respond to one of the anonymous posters above but it might get confusing to whom I am responding.

I don’t agree with Let Them Strike either simply because I’m not hoping that our teachers walk out. I hope the board and teachers can reach an amicable resolution. Not all of what the board proposed is reasonable, like the mandatory drug testing (where did that one come from?). Certainly teachers deserve more than 1% increases, but I think the 4% they’re asking for is too much in today’s economy. Most of the surrounding districts settled for 2% to 2.25%.

While it is true that this board has done some rather interesting things in recent months, it would be a mistake for the teachers to assume that the public won’t support them in this case. It should be interesting to see how united the board is. If all 9 are in agreement, including the reasonable board members, then the teachers must look at this as a sign that big time concessions are needed.

I think most people will understand that the board won’t get everything it wants, and neither will the teachers. As others above have stated, more negotiations are needed. What the public wants to see is progress. Right now, there isn’t much hope.

time to go said...

Eccles signed off on the current teachers contract. Not sure if there are any other current board members who were around then.

Gee...what a surprise that he was involved in the most expensive teacher's contract in Neshaminy history!

pianomom said...

I would feel better if Mr. O'Connor or Mr. Blasch could be part of the negotiations because I believe they are reasonable people, but I understand they cannot because of family members who are teachers. I hope some other reasonable board members like Mr. Spitz or Ms. Cummings are part of the negotiations.

Anonymous said...

I have been following the negotiations because I do not want any suprises come September. The Courier Times is incorrect with some of the information they printed about the current contracts. Also, the public should note the Fact Finder's report. The unbiased party agreed that the teacher's union should not have to pay for benefits. Plus, it was the District who rejected the settlement, not the teacher's union.

William O'Connor said...

It's very important that we report information as accurately as possible. Anonymous - what info did the Courier Times report incorrectly? Please confirm and I will be sure to look into it. The only thing which isn't accurate is the salary offers which lists the board's at 1% and the NFT's at 4%. We are proposing a 1% increase in the SALARY SCHEDULE, which translates into a 3.1% average increase for returning staff after accounting for step movements. The NFT is proposing a 4% increase in the SALARY SCHEDULE, which translates into a 6.1% average increase for returning staff.

You also reported some info somewhat incorrectly. First you reported that the fact finder said teachers shouldn't contribute to benefits but that's not entirely accurate. If you go to the posted findings at http://www.dli.state.pa.us/landi/lib/landi/plrb/fact_finding/neshaminy_sd.pdf you will see that the fact finder indicated further negotiations were needed and that he recommended no changes at this time.

Also your statement that the NFT didn't reject the findings is also inaccurate. They didn't respond at all, and as it is noted on the State's website at http://www.dli.state.pa.us/landi/cwp/view.asp?a=136&Q=248097, "failure to accept or reject is deemed a rejection."

pianomom said...

I don't think Mr. O'Connor will let anyone get away with posting inaccurate information. Thank you for "clarifying" the statements from the last anonymous poster.

meet the parents said...

To: Anonymous at 10:27 AM. Probably the most outrageous post on the blog. I would like to know how a Neshaminy teacher is responsible for a low PSSA score when a kid comes in, puts his head down on a desk and hands in a blank test. That's a zero and it does not help the averages. A letter to the editor last week in the Courier accurately described the parents as resaon for most of our educational problems. In the teacher's (case load) demands they list 1,000 as the case load for psychologists. Actually, they didn't ask for enough. I think that should be at 100 and the district needs to hire more school psychologists.

i must be living in jersey said...

To Anonymous 12:49 (feel like I'm referencing a Bible passage) - If you've been following the negotiations, you must be a teacher since the discussions until now have been conducted privately. When you print half truths like you did, it will only serve to discredit the teachers. Sharing only the portion of the facts that support your stand is hardly honest. If you really believe what you're asking for is just, then stand up to all the facts - not just the convenient ones.

Anonymous said...

To Living in New Jersey:

Thank you, you said what was on my mind and you are 100% correct! I also completely agree with the one post that said if we don't get control of these costs now, we will be cutting programs in the very near future. That really stinks for people like myself whose youngest is entering kindergarten.

CG said...

Dear Mr. O'Connor, I saw you speaking on tv last night at a property tax protest in Harrisburg. If you are truly committed to prudent spending, you will do all that you can to hold the line on Neshaminy's expenses. Those on fixed and limited incomes cannot afford another contract like the one that is now expiring. The public is depending on the entire school board to support education at a price that the public can afford.

Anonymous said...

Our family is grateful for the teachers our kids have had and we have great respect for them. But they should pay part of their health care. We have our health care through my husband's federal government job and we pay about 43% of our insurance premium and co-pays of 25+ for doctors and meds.

Brittany said...

Mr. O'Connor cannot be part of negotiations so he cannot help your taxes.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone ever look at the Neshaminy Employee newsletter link on the website? If a Neshaminy employee chooses to waive their insurance benefits they receive a refund from the district. It is almost a $6000 refund for family coverage. That is a benefit that needs eliminated immediately. If you choose not to participate in the plan there should be no pay out.

Anonymous said...

Check out the district's strategic plan folks...It is on the website. Educate yourself and see what the reference point is from both sides.
BTW....the strategic plan includes investigating the benefits of FULL DAY KINDERGARTEN!

Anonymous said...

Strategic Plan ?
William...does the board create or approve the Strategic Plan?

William O'Connor said...

The strategic plan is in essence a wish list that was assembled and vetted by district staff, a couple of board members, and (I think) some community members. This was put together prior to my being on the board.

tfr1984 said...

Do you have a strategic plan for making the Courier Times understand that you're offering 3% instead of 1%? They had another editorial today against the district for (what the courier feels is) an insulting offer. At least they also criticized the teachers for their demands.

time to go said...

To Brittany...

Mr. O'Connor may not be able to be part of the negotiations, but he can still help to make sure our taxes are fair by keeping an eye on the budget. Of all the board members, he seems to have the most understanding of budget items. From what I've heard about his business background, he has a great deal of experience with budgets. It's a shame that isn't a requirement when running for school board. Some of the board members haven't a clue when budget items are discussed. It is aparent by the blank looks many of them have during discussions and by outrageous comments made by the the infamous trio.