Friday, March 20, 2009

We earned a Thumbs Up!

It doesn't happen too often, so we're pleased to see that Guy Petroziello gave a thumbs up to the "Neshaminy school board members for punctuating their reasoned contract offer to teachers by pitching the same deal to administrators . . . " The editorial goes on to say "Commendations to the Neshaminy school board for trying to put the brakes on (excessive compensation costs)."

I am sure some taxpayers would have preferred that we offered less to both the teachers and the administrators, but I don't believe they are being realistic when it comes to the negotiations. There is a significant change to the benefits plan in our offer, and it is imperative we gave something to teachers and administrators as an incentive to accept. As one person wrote in a Courier Times blog, there needs to be some give in the give-and-take process or it isn't a negotiation. We are confident that our offers are fair, and many in the public agree (apparently the Courier Times concurs). We hope the teachers and administrators will see it that way, too.

If you want to read the most recent article about our offer to the Administrators, click here.


acs said...

Mr. O'Conner, The problem, of course, is way too many years of runaway spending and ONLY the taxpayers giving. Now you are asking us to give BIG yetagain. And I am talking about the board's offer not the teachers. The district can in no way afford the offer the board extended. It is the tyranny of the numbers. With your offer the math does not close including an existing $14M deficit. The teachers do not warrant any increase or anywhere near the benefits offered. No taxpayer supports the teachers here any longer. I know the board is proud of taking the stand you have but the fact is that the taxpayer still takes it on the chin yet again. The goal should have been no tax increase in 2009 and no give to teachers. Now with healthcare increases every year the dirty little secret is that if the teachers take YOUR proposal we will have significant annual tax increases for the foreseeable future. I would suggest you use the economic disaster to pull the offer and reduce as soon as possible. Who cares about the admin contract, there are only 30 of them. Teacher benefits will kill us forever if not addressed more radically. Taxpayers are not interested in continued increases in our taxes and you are still permitting the highest tax rates for a very mediocre district. As I said, the Math does not close.

William O'Connor said...

My question to you ACS - if the teachers are not agreeing to our current offer, what chance is there that they'll agree with yours? You do realize that if the teachers do not sign on the dotted line, your taxes will go up further because of increases to insurance costs.

I don't mean to be sarcastic but you might as well offer the teachers 100% benefits contribution and a 25% salary cut because it will make you feel better about your stand but it has no chance of being accepted either.

KClarinet said...

I know what - let's just close the whole system and send Neshaminy's kids to Morrisville. We could save really big money!!! Even if we had to provide the busing.

(Sorry - I'll understand if this never makes it onto the blog.)

acs said...

KC, I agree. Gov Rendell wants to consolidate school districts to gain efficiencies and save money. 500 to 250. I believe this should be considered here. It is obvious that Neshaminy cannot run a district effectively.
Mr. O'Connor, You need to think outside the box here. Sometimes taking a stand is much more important than compromise. You have done what needs to be done in not rolling over like the last board but it is now time to take a real stand and let the chips fall where they may. In the past 6 months times have changed. Let the taxpayers see you have the guts to do now react to this. They will back you regardless of cost on that. After all we are the ones who you have made pay through the nose for no return for so many years.

JS said...

I can understand ACS, but I do understand that if they won't accept this, then they won't accept less.

The bigger issue than the teachers accepting the contract, is what happens if they continue to not accept it. Though there have been no raises since September of 2007, we're still paying more because we are still forced to pay full benefits for current teachers as well as any retirement payouts/benefits/etc.

I still believe that even with contracted employees you can furlough or "lay off" staff. They technically still have a job, but are told they are not needed. Los Angeles just laid off 9,000 teachers so it is possible.

Another question is this. If we have teachers retire this year. I know we have a hiring freeze, but what if the position needs to be replaced. Is that new person signed on to the old contract? So in essence the would the teachers be able to "grandfather" someone into an expired contract?

I know state law really puts the School District in a bad place, but there must be some options out there to motivate the teachers some how.

Dagonet said...

Sorry -- at this point I'm not buying the "give them something, anything, just so they will sign."

Lockout on the first day of summer, and begin replacement of all teachers. Let them re-apply for their jobs at a reasonable compensation level if they want.

I guarantee that you would have plenty of highly qualified resumes and candidates.

Thinking somewhat rationally:

1.) $500 more in taxes for the year is not that much money to me.
2.) And, the chaos from the turn-over would require families to pitch in significant time/effort to ensure a good educational experience.

Regardless of the above...
Right now - all the trouble is worth it (to me) to be rid of this teachers union.

Fair disclosure - I have kids in this district, and I'm not alone in the opinion that our best course is to start over fresh.
If our president can take on big change, why can't we.

William O'Connor said...

ACS, it sounds as though you're saying we should fight harder against the teachers even if they don't settle, and the public will support us no matter what. With all due respect, when the tax bills come out, they'll turn on us in a heartbeat. As the saying goes, the bottom line is . . . the bottom line.

Dragonet, your strategy is based upon a false impression. The teachers cannot be legally locked out. They cannot be fired for not agreeing to a contract. This situation can go on until they agree to sign. So my question to you is what advantage will there be for the taxpayers if there is no agreement for years yet their taxes continue to rise due to increased health care costs (and other benefits) because of the top tied insurance coverage the teachers have with no contribution required?

William O'Connor said...

Sorry Dagonet for calling you the wrong name.

acs said...

Mr. O'connor, For comparison purposes can the board tell taxpayers what the expected average household increase will be with the board's peoposal including the $14M deficit:
1. If we do nothing i.e. contract is not agreed to and teachers work without the contract, i.e. no raises for foreseeable future.
2. If teachers get their demands.
3. The board's proposal is accepted.

For argument sake assume 8% annual healthcare cost incease.

It would be interesting to see it laid out this way.