Thursday, March 26, 2009

A lesson for teachers

It should come as no surprise that the Courier's editorial staff commented on the recent good news about District Administrators accepting our contract offer. In today's editorial, Guy Petroziello states "Maybe Neshaminy teachers will learn something from their bosses . . . Neshaminy administrators this week accepted the school board's reasoned and responsible contract offer . . . Neshaminy teachers, on the other hand, are on the taxpayer gravy train . . . Fortunately for taxpayers, the school board won't budge. It is sticking with its offer and should. Likewise, the teachers aren't budging."

You can read the entire editorial by clicking here.

Later in the editorial, the Courier zinged the board for lack of full disclosure by saying "Board members, on the advice of their attorney, would not describe slight changes in the offer to administrators . . . That's ridiculous and insulting." Well, maybe it is Mr. Petroziello but I'd ask the court for a little leniency here. For attendees at the meeting, you witnessed how Mr. Webb was answering questions posed to him by someone from the audience, but first he looked over to our solicitor, Tom Profy, for approval to address each question. Somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd question, Profy cautioned Webb not to elaborate any further.

It's not like this board is trying to hide anything. We posted details of our offer on our Negotiation Website last week, and we will consider formal acceptance of the contract at our next public meeting. This allows the public more than two weeks to review and comment on the offer before the board votes on it - that's unprecedented around these parts.

Let me put it another way - Say you're the editor of a local newspaper and you want to run a killer editorial but you have been advised by your attorney not to do so. Do you still print the editorial?

I don't want to go off on Petroziello too much since he has been very supportive of our board during these contract negotiations. He hasn't criticized our board in quite a while, and the poor guy is probably going through withdrawal. Hopefully he feels better now :-)


JS said...

Sadly I need to agree with the editorial that the public should know all the details before we are required to pay for it. Will there be an official release of all the details? After all it isn't just the Board members taxes paying for it.

William O'Connor said...

JS - Just to make sure you see this, here is the missing piece of the puzzle . . . the NFT's current proposal is IDENTICAL to their initial proposal in February 2008, with the single exception that they have offered to change their medical plan from PC15 to PC20, as discussed in "Summary of Negotiations to Date" posted on the Board's website Feb 17.

JS said...

Now I will address your comment Mr. O'Connor that the public has two weeks to "review and comment". Well I'm sure the posted press release is not the entire contract, and if not we can't "review" it. Obviously something is not being told if the solicitor is telling Mr. Webb to "not to comment further".

This Board has gone a long way to shure up support from the public. I think it would be a fine line between "with" the public and "against" it. I'm fairly sure that in this economic environment that the public has enough angst and ire to aim both at the teachers AND the Board should the need arise.

I would urge that there is significant public question about this Administrator Contract that someone move in two weeks to table the vote so that the public can be properly informed.

Again, the Administrators don't even need to formerly agree to this contract. They are not a Union with collective bargaining power. As long as what the Board offers them would hold up in court as "reasonable" then they could protest all they want and it would still be the contract. I don't know what could be any reason why the Board could not completely comment other than some "behind doors" aggreements that may cast a less than favorable light on the Board.

Politics and Conspiracy theories are like PB and J. Unless you open the sandwich and show there isn't one, then everyone will talk about and believe there is one.

KClarinet said...

I think that, so long as some of the agreement has already been published, the full text ought to be made available. It will become public record after a vote in any case.

JS said...

I finally was able to catch the replay of the recent meeting on TV.

Here is the situation as I see it. The Board offered a proposal to the NSDAA and they accepted (I'll remind everyone that them accepting is a formality under ACT 93). Why can the public not know the full details of the offer until AFTER the Board votes on it? There is information listed in the Press Release, but obviously not all. No specific salary numbers for one thing.

I can't seem to fathom that the Board would be violating some law or regulation by releasing the full details of this "contract" prior to it becoming final. How can we "review and comment" as you stated on the blog post Mr. O'Connor. Obviously the Press Release is not all of the information otherwise Mr. Webb would not have been advised to not comment.

I can only speculate as to why our solicitor told the Board to not comment. I'm guessing that even though the NSDAA does not have to formally agree to the offer, since they have the Board is essentially required to give them that offer. I'm speculating that their might be details (how ever few) that the public may not like and protest intensely prompting the Board to have to pass the "contract" regardless. If the details are held until after the vote then the Board being essentially handcuffed to their offer is a mute point.

I could be wrong, but as of right now the choice of "no comment" allows me to ONLY speculate as to why the Board can't comment.

I want to reiterate my point that some public statement be said prior to the vote. Even if it is to say "the Board has made this offer, so we are not able to change it unless the Board votes 'NO'". The public does not deserve to be allowed in after it's too late.

Ivy League said...


I do appreciate your work on the board and your efforts on this website, even if I don't always agree with you or the board's decisions.

I have made no secret of the fact that I disagree with the Board's decisions to post the proposals for a number of reasons.

1st, we elected you guys to do this. It seemed to be the case until the board wanted to engage a hostile community. (Nobody will convince me otherwise that some of these board members "plant" questions during the public comment.)

2nd, when the board published the negotiations "summary" there seem to be inaccuracies.

3rd, I am highly concerned that there is not ONE board proposal that would actually improve the education of our students. (Although I don't think it needs to be drastically improved... I am really tired of the PSSA dipstick argument used by.... well real Dipsticks. Why isn't Mr. Eccles and the rest of the board highlighting the incredible gains made by our students and teachers as outlined by Mr. Kadri? (If this board was truly concerned about educatioal issues and convinced that our teachers were not doing their jobs... then why in God's name don't any of you EVER speak about anything other than $, $, and $.) When are we going to talk about real educational issues... and I don't mean at the smaller board meetings, although I did attend one once and everything came back to the almighty dollar. EDUCATION COSTS MONEY!

4. I would bet the 2nd mortgage on my house that the board is cherry picking what it's reporting to the public regarding the principals' contract. There has to be something in it that would make them agree so quickly. I would love for you to tell me otherwise, but I don't know if you have even seen the entire package offered. I do know there is some kind of labor law that allows for parity when an employer is negotiating with more than one union. Are there 3 or 4 unions the board is negotiating with?

I want to state for the record (because I know it will come up as most of these bloggers assume anyone who isn't anti-teacher and does not possess the "make 'em suffer and if they don't like it fire 'em all" mentality)... I am not a teacher, I am not married to a teacher, I am not related to a teacher, but I was taught by OUTSTANDING Neshaminy teachers, (as are my children and the rest of the Neshaminy school students).

To summarize, I don't think the board should have made any of the contracts public, but since it is, then... let's see all of the proposals in their entirety. Is there any section in the principals' offer that is affected by the teachers'? Please answer that question and then maybe we will understand why the board stopped negotiating with the teachers and started with the principals.

Thank you.

KClarinet said...

Ivy League - "I do know there is some kind of labor law that allows for parity when an employer is negotiating with more than one union. Are there 3 or 4 unions the board is negotiating with?"

The administrators have always had contract terms that are essentially the same as those in the teachers' contract. In effect, the teachers wind up negotiating for both groups. It wouldn't be surprising that they were promised that the same practice would continue - if the contract teachers end up agreeing to is better than what the administrators have accepted, the administrators' agreement would be upgraded. The inclusion of such a provision is heavily rumored, and while it wouldn't be surprising or, to me, even wrong, it would tend to change the spin with which the whole agreement has been presented in the Courier and make it seem a little disingenuous.

Jake said...

I don't see where the board is being disingenuous KClarinet. If what I've read is true the board could have rammed an agreement down the throats of the administrators but intsead they negotiated with them to be fair, just as they did with the teachers. In fact the board may have backed themselves into a corner. If they back down to the teachers, then they'll have to give back the savings to the administrators (if what you're saying is true). The public will hang this board by their toes if that happens.

JS said...

If the little detail in the Administrator's Contract relating to equality is true that would be a MASSIVE issue.

Again we have no idea if it's true (though I would love to know where Ivy hears the rumors because I hadn't even gotten a sniff of that one), but all the secrecy by the Board just lets these rumors fester.

Mr. O'Connor might have not seen the full offer, but I believe Dr. Spitz has. I know he often visits this blog and maybe he can chime in, though I doubt it considering the way everyone clammed up at the meeting.

Are we (the public, your constituents, the bankroll for this offer) only allowed to know the full offer only AFTER it is voted on? I can not believe that is really the law, unless the Board did a "back room" deal that ensured it was kept secret until it was voted on.

Mr. O'Connor you have stated before that you don't want to delve in rumor, speculation, or conspiracy theories. How are we doing so far with this one?

Ivy League said...

I heard no such rumor.

I merely have a lot of free time on my hands.

I became involved in the blogosphere because of the outrageous teacher bashing.

To some in BlogoLand, it's unforgivable that I actually like to know both sides of an issue before deciding.

I had/have/will continue to have, the sneaking suspicion that the board is "spinnig" a lot of what is being said/reported, etc. at the expense of the teachers.

I was researching negotiations in general and read about some examples of this provisional idea.

Doing just as my Neshaminy teachers ( Hi Mrs. Daly) taught, I read everything I could and it just seemed to make sense, especially since the Board highlights the "insidious demands" of the teachers on its website while reporting the "benevolence" of the cooperative principals, but then clam up when pressed for details. At least the NFT isn't cherry-picking the details, seems to me they are sticking to a decision.

I will tell you this, I can't wait to see if this parity language exists in the principals' proposal.

And the worm turns....