Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Find middle ground

That's what one Neshaminy resident said to the board and teachers union in his letter to the editor of the Courier times. The author goes on to say, "Our kids are our most important and precious asset. We have many great teachers in our schools who care a great deal about our kids. I know, I have a boy in third grade and he loves school. That's because of our teachers."

You can read the entire letter by clicking here.


Blume said...

I agree with the author and am more than a little shockedy by the comments of the Barrett's. Let the district go bankrupt? Fire the teachers? I expect those kinds of comments from angry taxpayers but not from a former school board member who should know better.
Our board has acted reasonably in these negotiations and I am frustrated by the union's tactics, but that doesn't mean we should be bashing the teaching profession or making outrageous, unproductive comments like "let the district go bankrupt".
Here's a news flash - your taxes are going up no matter what happens with the contract. Can you go to the food store or Home Depot without paying more? Why would you think that the school district is immune from these same increases, which they must pass on to the taxpayer.

JS said...

I would like to know how not being able to "find a middle ground" is hurting the students? Actually "finding a middle ground" (aka raising the District's offer towards what the NFT is asking) only hurts the students. The more money we give in salaries and benefits only increases the budget gap we are facing and requires that more programs/funding are cut. How does that help the students?

Also, I think the School Board should send out some numbers about what the possible costs will be in 2012 when the District will have to start contributing the estimated 30% towards the Pension plan.

I think that in this economic climate that the Board should start equating numbers to numbers. Essentially state Number A is how much the estimated Health Care costs will be for the NFT offer, and that equates to Number B, the cost of such-and-such program that will have to be cut or taxes raised to pay for.

Just a thought. Then again apparently people on here think some of us talk to much as it is.

But since I am I need to make one more plea. Mr. O'Connor (and Dr. Spitz, I know you check in here) please bring up at the next Board Meeting the point that the FULL Administrators contract should be able to be viewed by the public prior to the Board voting on it. In this economic climate when you are looking to cut any and every program, I feel it is only fair that the public be FULLY informed and allowed appropriate comment. The holidays will give the public a disadvantage going in to next weeks meeting because most people will be tied up with family matters. I beg our elected officials to slow the process down for one meeting to ensure that everything is (excuse the pun for this time of year) kosher.

Ok, I'll get down, the soapbox is open for the next person.

Wing Man said...

I cannot speak for the author of the letter JS but I don't think you two necessarily disagree. From his perspective, fruitless negotiations and public cries for program cuts aren't helping our students. I'm sure you would agree that this is far from the ideal situation for our students. You do make the very valid point that if the board were to make further concessions, finding the middle ground as it were, spending would go up and the board would be forced to cut more educational programs.
There probably isn't any solution that will completely benefit our students or our taxpayers yet we cannot ignore what each party needs.

Jose said...

angry taxpayers are expecting too much. yes the teachers should pay benefits - no question about it. and lots of their perks should be renegotiated. again, no question about it. but how can you expect there will be no tax increase at all? the district is not immune to inflation and that means they pass increased costs on to the tax payers. there is more to this problem than the teachers contract. there is a problem with the way pennsylvania funds education. if the board can negotiate a new contract with teacher concessions while keeping a tax increase to less than a rate of inflation (3% maybe), then that would be a big win. it may not be perfect but it would be pretty darn good in this less than perfect world.

JS said...

A 3% tax increase nets the district about $5 million. If the $14 million gap would have cost the average tax payer $500, then the $5 million would cost about $180. Only problem is we still have about $8 million left to find somewhere.

I can't wait till the entire state of PA gets a massive increase in 3 years. I still find it odd that the same Judges who ruled you could not retroactively lower pensions are the same judges that receive pensions. Conflict of interest much?

Newbie said...

I really like this website. My compliments to the author for being a school board member and for hosting an info blog. I also appreciate that disagreements among readers are shared with civility.
I didn't realize there were elements of the administrators contract that weren't shared with the public yet. The contract sounds good and should put pressure on the teachers to settle (I hope). I guess we'll know more at the next public meeting.
I may have a slightly different view on the contract situation than some (most) of you. I agree teachers should pay 25% of benefits but I don't mind paying for higher wages as long as we get quality teachers. I would pay $100,000/year for a great teacher, but I wouldn't give $10,000 for a bad one. I would love to see the board come up with a way to reward the top performing teachers while cutting loose the bottom feeders. Probably no easy way to do that when a union is involved but I believe it's a worthy pursuit.
My last comment is that I don't like reading all the negative comments here and other places about the teachers and the district. Neshaminy is a very good school system. Not perfect, but very good nonetheless. If we as tax payers get into the bad habit of demanding undisciplined spending cuts, WE will be responsible for running this district into the ground.

William O'Connor said...

Welcome aboard, Newbie! Don't be a stranger. Of course if you do become a regular around here you'll probably have to change your name :-)

Note to Casey D: I accidentally deleted your comments. Could you please resubmit them and I'll be happy to publish them. Sorry!!! :-(

Casey said...

That's ok William, we all make mistakes. I am happy to resubmit my comments.
First, to add on to what Newbie said I like your blog too. I've been reading it for a while but only now am I commenting for the first time.

I am very concerned what people like Larry Pastor are doing in their efforts to cut spending. Angry rhetoric and insults during public meetings only infuriates the people more when what we need is calm, thoughtful resolution. I don't know if Pastor realizes it but his statements only make the teachers want to dig in their heels more. Then to say things like there are people who wouldn't sign his petition because they are fearful of teacher retaliation. Come on, that is totally absurd. Teachers are not thugs and they should not be treated as such.

I agree with the board's position and how they've handled the contract situation to date. If the public wants to support the board, they should do so by publicly backing the board's actions, not insulting teachers. The only way we'll get this contract sign is through diplomacy which must begin with respect, not insults.

LivininLevittown said...

So Newbie you would pay $100,000 for a teacher. I take it you live north of OLH.

I must be living in Jersey said...

Real nice, LiL. We get a little fresh blood on this blog and you go and make judgements about their socioeconomic status. While the average household income may vary depending on what side of route 1 you sit, that doesn't mean that common sense stops at the border. All Newbie said was they would pay a good wage for a great teacher but also would want to cut out bad teachers - seems like a reasonable statement no matter which side of route 1 you're on.

IrishFarm said...

Definition of Irony: Newbie is drawn to this blog by the civility of its readers, then is insulted just 30 minutes later by LivinginLevittown.

Welcome to the neighorhood, Newbie!

acs said...

This is an interesting thread. I find it fascinating that people still to not understand the issues. There is no inflation in the US fact there is deflation. The only inflation cost is for taxpayers in covering the increasing healthcare cost that an aging teacher population pay nothing for. Wage inflation does not exist. It is interesting people think the community is teacher bashing! So tell me where teachers are somehow immune to criticism for blatant greed at taxpayer expense. When I see those letters and comments it only points out how our community is so uniformed on what teachers and their unions have done to America's education system and taxpayer costs in the past 30 years. This is not about the individual teacher and there didication or skill. This is about how they have nearly bankrupted our district and have shown absolutely no concern about it. No matter what contract teachers end up with, programs WILL be cut severely due to years and years of teachers and public workers in general getting far more than reasonable, relative to other workers. School Boards share blame as well as Unions have out muscled them forever. We have a solution for that it is called elections.
There are just facts. Mr. O'Connor you run a great Blog. Please continue to educate, it is sorely needed.

Ivy League said...

ACS, I admire your dedication and quest to educate the public about these matters.

So, in the spirit of education, let's clarify a few, as I see it, inaccuracies in your most recent blog.

1. You assert that teachers should NOT be, "... immune to criticism for blatant greed at taxpayer expense."

Let's look at a little history. To the best of my memory, the teachers' contract that expired in July 2008 was originally ratified and signed when Dr. Bowman was still the superintendent. And that was what... in 2002, so that's ... seven years ago?

From my understanding, that contract was basically a continuation of the previous contract signed... four years earlier in... 1998? ( I know I can rely on someone correcting me if I am mistaken).

Okay then, prior to 1998, our teachers, were offered THE Holy Grail of insurance coverage: Indemnity and Traditional insurance; which according to Blue Cross/Blue Shield's own website, "... provides members with the most freedom of choice, and offers the most control over your health care..." while allowing, "... members to select any provider..." (I'm not sure why, but their website doesn't mention the fact that it is the single most expensive healthcare available, hmmmmm...)

So in 1998, spurred by their, "blatant greed at taxpayer expense," and led by Jimmy Hoffa and Tony Soprano, our teachers switched from THE Holy Grail Indemnity to Blue Cross/Blue Shield Preferred Provider Organization, aka Personal Choice.

PersonalChoice is, "... designed to supply services at a discounted cost by providing incentives for members to use designated healthcare providers who contract with the PPO at a discount."

The employer, hence the taxpayer, saves money because the employee starts to pay co-pays for different levels of service.( I'm still really not sure how you or anyone else can consider teachers who pay co-pays out-of-pocket as "free healthcare.)

So...back to my point, the teachers in Neshaminy have actually saved this district money for the last ten years.

OH! OH! OH! PLUS...I am pretty sure they made the switch before Council Rock and before some other districts.

OH!!!! AND... I don't know for sure, but I bet when the teachers, TEN YEARS AGO, willingly agreed to make the switch from the Indemnity to the PPO plan... the principals followed... saving even more money.

Andddd... it looks like their co-pays increased, which must mean they saved us even more money.

Then they negotiated that opt-out deal that saved us even more money.

So just how is that an example of "blatant greed"?

2. You claim that we, the members of the community, are uninformed because, "... of what the teachers and their unions have done to America's education system and taxpayer costs in the past 30 years," and how, "... they have nearly bankrupted our district and have shown absolutely no concern about it."

I am not even really sure what you mean by that, but it smacks of political and meaningless rhetoric, especially when you stop to consider the savings to the district and taxpayer the healthcare switched provided us back in 1998...

Your, "... what teachers and their unions have done to America's education system," statement is baseless and nothing more than a perfect example of bureaucratese.

3. Stop blamining the,
"... aging teacher population" for not paying. The district was not hoodwinked into offering the retirement packages they did. There was no "out muscling" from the unions... The board offered it because they knew they would save $$$$$$ in the long run.

Finally, there are MANY reasons this district is faced with the deficit it is faced with. It seems to me that the district knew it was coming eventually, didn't realize how bad the economy would get, and is now using the teacher and their contract as a scapegoat...

PS... It is, "With bated breath, and whispring humblenesse," I ask you William...when do we get to read all the details about the principals' contract?

William O'Connor said...

Ivy League, I appreciate your patience and persistence in asking for the specific details of the Administrators contract. The highlights of the offer are still posted on the Board's negotiation website. As for the actual agreement itself, it is not the board's practice to post the agreements on the district site. You may obtain a copy of the agreement by sending a written request to:
Neshaminy School District
2001 Old Lincoln Highway
Langhorne, PA 19047
Attn: Lou Muenker, Acting Superintendent

JS said...

Mr. O'Connor I must speak out on your comment here.

Unless the Board is planning on rescinding the vote they took last night. Ivy's request is a mute point.

Ivy, I'm sad to say but the Administrator's contract was approved (unanimously) last night with the provision that if the teachers get more, they get more.

Mr. O'Connor I believe the public never truly understood what the Board was offering the Administrators because the Board REFUSED to offer the full details. (FYI, your suggestion to submit a written request for the details only works because you have ratified it already).

As I stated in my other post. You essentially opened up the taxpayers wallet just so you could play a PR stunt concerning the Teachers. "Now there will be more pressure because the Administrators accepted the contract we offered them" is probably what the Board is hoping.

WRONG!! All you did is essentially guarantee that we'll pay more than this contract to both the Teachers AND the Administrators, as well as now put the Administrators on the Teachers side.

My schedule doesn't allow me to make it to meetings, but I hope that some comment on this issue occurred before the vote. If not, my opinion of this board (and more directly you and Dr. Spitz) will have dropped.

I hope the rest of the public understands the game you and the Board just played. I know I will be in my mind when I walk into a voting booth. Who knows how much it may influence me. I guess we'll find out.

I apologize for sounding so angry. I guess I just hoped that we finally had some different kinds of Board members than in the past. I guess I was wrong.

William O'Connor said...

JS - You're entitled to your opinion, but I am greatly offended at your accusations. This is no game. As board members, we spend our evenings and weekends working on this stuff - and with no financial compensation, unlike municipal officials. This board has been more open with the public than any other in the past - we have posted details of contract offers to the public, we have held public strategic meetings to discuss ways of trimming the budget. Heck, I consider maintaining this blog as a way of keeping the public informed. We're not perfect, but we have undertaken strides to be open with the public that are unprecedented for Neshaminy.

If you want to be critical of our not posting all the contract details, I cannot disagree with you. If you think that the equity clause could come back to haunt us, that is a valid concern. But when you say we're playing games or that you hoped members of this board would be different than others, yeah, I get offended.

I'll continue to post your comments if you submit them, but if you are so bloody disappointed at my behavior, feel free NOT to come back. I'm sure there's plenty of room for you over on the Courier blog.

And you don't even have to worry about the voting booth in my case in another two years. I'll leave it to you and all the others who live and breathe up in the cheap seats to find someone better. I won't be on the board, I won't be in the audience to advocate for the students, and this blog will be a distant memory. As the late, great Harry Kalas would say, I am outta here!

acs said...

Prof Ivy, Your lesson is really appreciated but not completely relevant. The greed comment is based on the current NFT demands, not last contract(although the last contract extension was absurd by any measure-boards comment not mine). By 2002 most major corporations had dropped defined benefit plans and had employees contributing upwards of 25% to Healthcare costs.Everything I said is very well substantiated in the reality of state laws and the Public Worker Union control of the past 50 Years. Just facts. However, you should feel free to send in extra tax money in your next bill since you feel so strongly about subsidizing public workers. I for one, and most now agree, are not interested in supporting the public worker with premium benefits and pay that people in other occupations no longer receive. It appears, with the pending refunding of public worker pensions, that the days are numbered where taxpayers will actually be able to bear this burden any longer. This board is not being totally honest with community in that the Admin contract, as described, and also rejected by the NFT, is not in any way affordable for the district. Now if teachers get a richer one, as expected after final negotiations, we will face years and years of budget deficits and huge tax increases.

JS said...

You have a right to point out that I am in the cheap seats. Safe behind a fake name.

I wish I could be more publicly vocal. When anyone brings the subject up in a face to face conversation I never hold back. At the same time I am not in a position to have my rantings (and I agree some of my posts today have been rantings) come back to haunt me. I wish that were different, and if it ever is I will guarantee that I will not be in the cheap seats. Don't like the view and lack of contact personally.

I guess the "game" I'm referring to is the "political" one that inevitably any elected official gets into. It's how they stay elected. They swap words or selectively edit to make just enough people think something that may not be entirely true just long enough to make it through an election (I reference the game to all of the Board since it was a unanimous vote).

I am sorry for being so harsh. I do admit that there have been many changes with this Board in the way they operate. I was just hoping that more of it was a fundamental change and not superficial. How can I not view including this clause in the contract as "business as usual"? All along the Board has been saying how "we are being open and transparent". That clause was SPECIFICALLY kept hidden until AFTER the vote. What are we supposed to think?

Yourself and Dr. Spitz have both been on this blog saying that the contract was fully disclosed on the Website. Well it wasn't. Why shouldn't I be disappointed?

Again I apologize for being harsh. I guess I should count to 10 before typing (maybe even 10,000 in my case sometimes).

I must be living in Jersey said...

Way to go JS. Insult the best board member we've ever had.

It's DSP for you! (Double secret probation)

Gabriel said...

Wow, never seen an irate comment from Mr. O'Connor before.

While I do agree with some of JS's points (especially the posting of the agreement), I am also willing to cut the board some slack and take a wait-and-see approach. Not only is this board very different from 6 years ago, it is also very different from 6 months ago. I am not sure if that is because they have rallied around the various contract issues or because of Mr. Webb's leadership as the new board president, or both.

I have confidence the board is committed to staying strong during these negotiations, and this ME TOO clause will act as an inhibitor against concessions by the board. I could be wrong but will stand behind the board in this case because of the way they have handled the process (in general)to this point.

march said...

What many people do not understand is that it will take more than one contract to get the current teacher's contract in line with everyone else's. It took years to get us in this mess and it will take years to get us out. Don't trash Mr. O'Connor for what has happened, you need to look at the past school board members who negotiated that contract, have repeatedly been reelected, and currently sit on the board.

nostradamus said...

I predict that nobody on this blog will second guess the board any more for fear that William will spaz out on them.

nostradamus said...

That was just a joke William. Please don't spaz out on me! LOL

Ivy League said...

Okay, I'm not sure the comment about the corporations getting rid of indemnity by 2004 because you don't offer any sort of documentation to support it (call me crazy, but I like to go on more than one person's analysis), but for the sake of argument, let's say it is.

Nonetheless, by your own assertion, the NFT, in having switched from indemnity to PPO four years before "corporations", demonstrated both the concern you accuse them of not having, AND some forethought.

Can't you at least admit that? Can you give the teachers of our community some of the dignity back you, and others, have tried to strip them and their profession of? Your unconvincing sentiment: "This is not about the individual teacher and there (sic) didication (sic) or skill," is flimsy at best. It is EXACTLY about the individual teacher

You suggest I send in extra tax money because I feel so strongly about it. Rest assured, I have no problem understanding that my taxes, and yours, and everyones, will rise.... that's called living in a community and living in America.

I pay taxes for roads I will never drive on, services I pray to God I will never need, and programs (like Social Security) that I will probably never receive. Why? Again.... this little thing called a community. I don't get to pick and choose. Public employees play by the rules, then get the pleasure of listening to arm-chair-know-it-Alls B#%^H and moan about the taxes they are paying for the crap performance they are receiving, then we add insult to injury by proposing "mandatory drug testing of the teachers."

And we expect them to take it seriously? Drug testing??? I spent 12 years in NSD, my kids are there now and... drug testing of TEACHERS? In my daughter's new language OMG... STFU (she gets in trouble for that one!) Do we really have a bunch of druggie teachers running around or in stupors?

If you don't want to pay school taxes... then why don't you just rent. Let your landlord pay them all. Why own a home at all?

Earlier in my diatribe, I stated that I don't take just one person's account as gospel. I like to know all sides.

I would like to know just when those of you who say the teachers are greedy have spoken directly to any of the NFT negotiators?!

I don't think even Mr. O'Connor (whom I respect immensely even when we disagree- I REALLY hope he doesn't take his bat and ball and go home, I like him being in the sandbox) was in on any of the negotiating session he does enough already--I'm not suggesting he should be there. He, along with the rest of the board is relying on information from Misters Webb, Koziol and Spitz (I bet they are told what to report from Sweetums). In all fairness, I concede that the board alone should not bear the blame for their "tactics". I am well aware that the board too is negotiating, their lawyer/s (Profy and Sweetie-pie) is/are orchestrating what is said and how it is said.

Now, more than ever-- and in light of the purposefully-concealed "ME-TOO" clause, I believe any and all information the district "reports" about ANY negotiations to be, at best less-than-transparent, at worst suspect.

Mr. O'Connor, if nothing else I have learned that teachers are consistent, reasonable and fair, that's why lawyers love to get them on juries. Please inform us all, as per the expired contract between the NSD and the NFT, the percentage the teachers receive these last 7 years. (In addition to paying all of ACS's taxes, I will come to a school board meeting and apologize directly to you and the rest of the board members if it was ever more than the 3% the principals just got.)

Not until I hear directly from the teachers myself that they truly want and really expect to get a contract with a 6% annual raise and zero changes to their insurance premiums-as reported often on this blog and others- will I believe they are being greedy. Until then never in a million years will anyone convince me that the teachers in our district, the same ones who put band-aids on my kids' knees, show up at their concerts and sporting events (outside of school) encourage them, nurture them, motivate them, show up at wakes and funerals of grandparents, coach them, laugh with them, cry with them, advocate for them, call home when they are sick or had a bad day... or a great day (the list could go on and on, in fact my wife was actually jealous of our son's affection for his first grade teacher, which has remained unabated 'lo these many years) all while managing to teach an outstanding curriculum, are GREEDY.

Anyone who has ever negotiated anything chooses a tactic (ask my wife how she got a bigger engagement ring-- no, never mind.. that's another kind of blog.)

The teachers tactic: remain silent.

The district's tactic: share "select" information at convenient times. (Again, not just the board's fault, although it does make me wonder how much Mr. Sweet billed this month-- does he make more the longer this goes on.)

The wise Arc Angel Gabriel is willing to "cut the board some slack and take a wait-and-see approach," I guess in Neshaminy, that is something that only applies to the Board.

William on a personal level, if I have offended you in any way, then...(as my same daughter who gets in trouble for the text language would say)... sry...u r my Boo!

acs said...

Ivy, I am so exhausted after reading your last entry. I give up, you are so right on so many levels you have totally converted me. After reading your many tomes in blind support of everything teacher and union, I have acutally decided to give all my worldly possessions to a struggling heroic Neshaminy teacher....perhaps the one who band aided your childs boo-boo. They are all so incredibly wonderful and superior and deserve so so much it will be difficult to decide. Peace out.

PS. Mr. O'connor I know your strict rules on sarcasim but.... well it is just so hard to write any serious response on this.

Gabriel said...

Ivy League, are you dissing me?

William O'Connor said...

ACS - you're killing me, man. Please tone down the sarcasm in your reply and I'll print it. Until then, to use Jersey's words, it's DSP for you :-)

acs said...

MR. O, My remarks were no more sarcastic than Ivy's. Please print then I am done. Only fair. Obviously we do not agree on much except sarcasm ;)

JS said...

Wow I can only imagine what ACS is doing to not get posted. I sounded like Mr. Pastor's angrier second cousin in my comments and it go posted. (Again I'm sorry of losing my temper)

I think ACS has wandered past DSP into DDESP (Double double extra secret probation).

Gabriel, I think that was a sarcastic free remark by Ivy to you (didn't realize he could pull it off).

Ivy, I'll try to toss some more info your way about what the teachers are asking. No this does not come from an actual NFT negotiating member, because honestly the one member I came across to ask actually refused to say any more than the standar "It's not entirely accurate" as is the only thing we ever hear as a statement.

This comes from a teacher (actually several who seem to have all the same comment). As far as they know the 6% and no health care change is only if they lose all of the other retirement perks ($27k pay out, free health care till 65, and service bonuses). As far as those teachers know there would be room to negotiate on pay and health care from the NFT end if the Board agreed to keep all of the retirement perks. Again this comes from Teachers, the supposed people the NFT is negotiating on behalf of. If they are not informed correctly, then who knows what the NFT really is thinking strategy wise (and more importantly why aren't they communicating with the teachers).

With that being said I'll speak to how them demanding those items is still being greedy.

Of all those perks not one other district in Bucks County offers both a pay out and health care. Only Bensalem offers a pay out ($24k) and none of the ones offering health coverage offers them for free (most even charge above what the current contribution for active teachers is).

Considering the fact that the Neshaminy step scale has been shorter than most districts for years (with a higher top step than most as well) and no other district has had free health care for at least 5 years means that just salaries and benefits alone are disproportionate to surrounding districts. Since both Salaries/Benefits as well as Retirement Perks are both Above other districts, wouldn't it seem prudent that BOTH should come down? Otherwise Neshaminy Teachers would have a contract still WELL ABOVE other districts.

Ivy, I'll ask you. Do you think Salaries and Benefits and Retirement Perks on par with other Districts in Bucks County is fair? (Coincidentally that is what the Board is offering) Or do you think A. Better Salaries and Benefits than EVERY other district (or) B. Better Retirement perks than EVERY other district is fair? Remember these last two choices require a significant increase in taxes just to account for them (never mind the already present budget gap).

I think a fair contract would be the appropriate course.

(I should talk about cold hard numbers more often, I get less ranty)

William O'Connor said...

Ok, you're ALL on DSP! I can't tell the difference between sarcasm and good natured ribbing, and quite frankly, Ivy League, I missed the sarcasm somewhere in between chapters of your previous novel so I am publishing ACS's comments.

Seriously, you're all smart people (really). You make excellent arguments and support much of what you say with facts and/or good reason. Just PLEASE be sure to keep things friendly.

I'm off to a meeting. Behave yourselves. And don't you make me come back here or else . . .

JS said...

Uh oh, Mr. O is gonna turn the car around. Where we're going back to I have now clue.

Ivy League said...

Gabriel, I was not dissing you at all; seriously, I think your stance is a wise one and that it should work both ways.

I am the first to admit I can be l-o-n-g winded, I actually enjoy thought-provoking conversations and thought that's what was happening here. I am sorry if it exhausts or frustrates anyone to the point where they feel the need to "give up".

My reason for blogging is not to give the teachers the keys to the kingdom. I would not be the least bit supportive of the teachers if I truly believed, like so many of you seem to, that they wanted an exorbitant raise in addition to completely free healthcare.

I didn't believe the hype and the celebrating over the potential administrators' contract; I was suspicious of the timing and the reporting. I am still suspicious of it. I'll post my reasons for these continued suspicions under "Board OKs contract with administrators; I promise to make it short (but maybe not Sweet LOL) like one sentence short...

ACS... If you don't understand what I've been trying to express by now, I guess you never will.

I had no illusions of "converting" anyone, all I had intended to do was give pause to reason.

LS, I have no idea what the NFT is or isn't telling their constituents, I wish that I did, but it seems like they have mastered their own DTESSP (double-triple-extra-special-secret-probation.) In regards to what you say-the teachers say-about what the negotiators say, well... sounds to me like there is room to negotiate if the teachers are engaging in "if this...then that..." conversations.

As far as benefits, I know everyone likes to say that the teachers are getting "free" healthcare, but that ended with the indemnity plan way back some 10 -11 years ago.

If the teachers pay co-pays, especially if the co-pays are variegated based on healthcare providers and prescriptions... well then... THEY ARE NOT GETTING FREE HEALTHCARE. Paying a co-pay means that the employee is relieving some of the burden from the employer. Free means free... no out of pocket costs. I believe that our Neshaminy retirees have the same healthcare benefits that the current employees have.

Comparing salaries and benefits and retirement perks as a whole from district to district is a little like comparing apples and oranges. For example... CR teachers contribute monthly towards their healthcare, but they get paid more cash, our teachers contribute via a variegated co-pay structure and get paid less cash. Which one is fair?

I think ultimately there are things that the teachers must know about these negotiations that we don't.

Like Gabriel, I am willing to suspend judgement until we know. I believe the teachers want what we all want: to be able to care for their families like they have in the past; but unlike a lot of us, they are faced with additional conundrums: attempting to do so while simultaneously protecting their profession and community and defending their livelihood.


JS said...

Ivy, I will agree that they do not get "Free" health care.

I would like to know 1 person in this country who doesn't pay a "co-pay" for at least some doctors visits. Their co-pays are also DRAMATICALLY lower than most people who ARE contributing to their plans. (FYI, I had Personal Choice 2 years ago, same as the Teachers. I paid $200 per pay check and co-pays of 20/40/60 the teachers currently pay $15 dollar copays)

So to be fair they are getting "free premiums" not free health care. Also they are getting lower copays.

I agree that the NFT is right to not want to give up things they had. The problem was, just like this recent real estate bubble, the level they were at was unsustainable. The bubble is bursting and must deflate. If their contract hadn't been so grand the last time, these cuts wouldn't look so harsh.

They should just appreciate they got those 7 years and push harder to get things back the next time around.

acs said...

Ivy your comment is true but somewhat misleading. I couldn's stay away. I am sorry but a co-pay is not true Participatory HC. A co-pay represents Out Of Pocket expense and is only a misicule portion of cost.It is really nothing in terms of cost shift. In fact benefits planners would be amazed that a plan like ours still exists. As I said the cost of HC has shifted to an average of 26.7 % in employee average cost. Not sure what average co-pay represents but based on the teacher "package" cost I have seen it is likely much less than 5% and more like 1% of cost. That is not cost shift...we would all die for that coverage.
As it relates to teacher demands it is true at the last bargining meetign the NFT insisted on no employee contribution to HC cost in new contract. That is payroll deduction of plan cost vs out of pocket. No sarcasm just the facts.

Ivy League said...

How did I know ACS couldn't stay away.

I'll cut to the chase...

The expired contract was 7 years ago and was a continuation of the 3 year one before that. The co-pay must have helped significantly back then.

10 years have passed. People are hurling accusations at the NFT and its teachers because, "at the last bargining meetign (sic) the NFT insisted on no employee contribution to HC cost in new contract." I agree with you and am not arguing that, they are holding their ground.

So is the Board.

GET TO THE MIDDLE. I am confident the teachers will move, but the board must move also.

acs said...

How did I know Ivy would need to have the last word? But at least it wasn't War and Peace again.

I will simply say we all know the middle ground is not affordable. I am pretty sure comprimise is not in the cards, as it is now time, albeit the first time, for the teachers and their union to yeild to the needs of the community.

Ivy League said...

You know... I recently buried my grandmother and was helping my dad go through all of the bills from the funeral home, etc.

Now my Nanny volunteered at the same hospital where she died, she also volunteered at the church she attended daily. Both places adored her.

Guess what? The same doctors and nurses who loved her still got paid to take care of her. The church that she practically help build still got their "funeral fee."

Can you figure out what I'm gettin' at ACS?

I'll let you have the last word on this one.

acs said...

Sorry Mr. O I was contemplating the meet for drinks idea but not anymore.