Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Strictly personnel

Last night we welcomed 5 new administrators to fill the void of several open positions; 2 of the 5 were promoted up from within the ranks of current employees while the other 3 came from other school districts. They are:

Kathleen Brewster - Principal at Schweitzer
Lisa Pennington - Assistant Principal at NHS
Anthony Rybarczyk - Principal at Hoover (from Pennridge)
Lynn Knots - Assistant Principal at NHS (from Reading)
Charles D'Alfonso - Principal at Lower South (from North Penn)

Congratulations all on their new assignments (and welcome to Neshaminy for the newbies).

In other personnel news, the Board approved labor agreements last night with the Neshaminy Administrative Support Association and the Confidential Secretaries. Both agreements covered the same ground as others recently approved and are consistent with the offers made to the NFT and the Support Staff workers.

Just prior to last night's meeting, the Support Staff workers staged what they referred to as an "informal protest" by holding up signs and collecting signatures of support at the entrances to Maple Point. The Support Staff is objecting to the District's decision to entertain bids from outside contractors in addition to negotiating with them. The Group's president, Mindy Anderson, spoke to the Board during public comment restating her objections to the District's consideration of external bids and presented the board with a petition reinforcing that position.

Moving on to non-personnel matters, last night I restated a previous request for the formation of an ad hoc committee to review building utilization in the district, specifically to focus on our elementary schools. Recent facilities studies suggest that our elementary buildings may be underutilized, and I am suggesting that we obtain updated information to confirm or disprove the earlier reports now rather than make a mad scramble in January when we're stuck behind the budget 8-ball again. Ultimately I prefer not to close another building in the district but prudent business practices dictate that we do a little due diligence. Board Prez Ritchie Webb agreed to appoint 3 board members, 1 from each region, to the ad hoc committee.

Citizen attendance at the meeting was disappointing to me. We had about 75 people there, most being Neshaminy staff. Aside from the usual attendees, I didn't see too many parents in the crowd. Hey, I know it's the end of summer but let's get ourselves into good habits early. So suck it up and show up. I'll expect to see more of you at the next meeting OR ELSE . . .
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You can read the Courier Times' recap of last night's meeting by clicking here.
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46 comments:

acs said...

The board is doing the right thing to get outside support staff bids. This is what a responsible board does and what good business people would do. If the Support staff leadership doesn't like it then all they need to do is accept the board's offer BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. Odds are the company that is chosen by board will hire a lot of them anyway but then they will get what everyone in the REAL world gets now. So they should snap up the offer just like Boyd and the teachers should do.......People have had with these unions in general and perceive they are really taking advantage of taxpayers........this is a great example of not knowing how good you have it. Imagine how fast Boyd would grab the offer on the table if this board could get bids on Teacher jobs from private firms. It is amazing how these union folks don't see what EVERYONE ELSE DOES.
I would compel Teachers and Support staff to WAKE UP, YOU have it better than 95% of private employees now....the penalty for greed is painful, you should all consider the possibilities since the board holds ALL the power and the community is 100% behind Mr.Webb and team.

I Must Be Living in Jersey said...

Let's put things in perspective. I'm sure the current support staff are caring people who do a good job. But it's not like they cannot be replaced, and at a lower price (or the board wouldn't outsource it). In fact, if the board does outsource these functions it must be a substantial savings or they wouldn't bother.
Aside from teachers and perhaps bus drivers, pretty much everyone in the district could be kicked out the door today and school could continue tomorrow. That includes jobs at all levels - food servers, secretaries, maintenance, administration and even principals. And don't think this Board won't do it. They will not repeat the mistakes of previous boards and they are unified 9-0, and they have the support of the public.

Pianomom said...

I usually trust your judgement but the possible closure of a school building does concern me. If our buildings are grossly underutilized I can understand why we may have to close one. But I hope and trust you won't close a school that forces our students into overcrowding just to save money.
Saving money is important, but not at the expense of our children's education. I know you know that, but this is important enough that I want to be sure.

JS said...

I need to speak up for the support staff because you are unaware of a specific detail.

They haven't been given an offer by the Board. They aren't holding out. The Board is doing it's own process of securing bids, so there isn't any negotiating even going on.

Also the Support Staff contract already had give backs the last two times so they already are at the levels that the other signed groups have agreed to.

So stop ripping into a group that right now really only wants to keep their jobs, not keep the status quo. And besides their status quo is already low to begin with.

acs said...

JS why is this at al important. It is ONLY important that the board i.e. the employers of the staff get the most cost effective solution to suppot needs on behalf of thier BENEFACTOS i.e. all of us taxpayers. NEWSFLASH: Neshaminy SD is not a charity. Although it has been run that way for teachers etc by prior boards. This board is outstanding.

LO in Langhorne said...

Do they pay for benefits? Bet not. Meanwhile most of us pay at least 25% to 35% if not more. And if there are outsourced vendors who can do these jobs for less, then that means our employees are making better than average wages for these jobs. Their salaries may not compete with the teachers but manual labor jobs aren't supposed to.
Even if this group has been more cooperative than the others it doesn't change the board's position. They must keep their offers consistent. If they back down from one, they jeopardize the others.
I've heard the board has met several times with this group so I refuse to believe they didn't know what offer was on the table. Even if the board didn't extend a formal offer I'll bet there were discussions. If the support workers still claim ignorance of a board offer, here, I'll give it to you and I haven't even been to one of their meetings - 3% annual raise, 15% to 17% benefits contributions, no retirement perks.
Here is the bottom line: take the offer or lose your jobs to outsourcing. You may not like it, you may not think it's fair, but that is the offer. Make a choice and be prepared to live with the consequences.
Don't like your options? Guess what - this is what the rest of us must deal with every day of our lives. You can no longer be sheltered from the real world economy.

acs said...

LO, Well put. This is years of Unions having there way. Teachers have gouged the taxpayers and everyone benefits with ME TO CBA clauses. It is hard when the union for once is at the other end of PAIN. They do not know how to handle. Notice Boyd was silent last night. Amazing that she didn't support the Staff president. HMMM I guessno no honor among thieves.

LO in Langhorne said...

Thank you for the support ACS but take it easy on the thieves reference. I disagree with their tactis, yes, but calling them thieves is a little further than I'm prepared to go.

acs said...

LO, To each his own. I have been at this a while with unions....I will stick with the reference. But we are fighting the same cause. So carry on.

csld said...

First of all most of the support staff do not have benefits and second of all the food service does not even run on taxes payer dollars they are self supporting .So before you call people thieves I would get your facts straight.

acs said...

csld, Really? Please ehlighten us. Odd if they do not have benefits then what are they negotiating? They would just take the board's offer then which is quite rich with benefits!
Maybe William can provide insight on csld's post as well.

LivininLevittown said...

If you want the public to be aware of all the facts the best way is to make the negotiations public so we can hear and see everything. Oh but wait the teachers don't want the public in on the negotiations. Teachers only want us to know the facts when it benefits them but they want us to be kept in the dark the rest of the time.

csld said...

Like I said before not all support staff have benefits .William can tell you that is a fact.And like I said Food Service which is part of the negotiations are self supporting.The support staff is all the same union so if can't negotiate for one you can't negotiate for the other.

csld said...

livinginlevittown I am not a teacher so I have no idea what the facts are .But I am support staff and do know the fact about that .I do not have benefits.The only beneifits I have are the ones my spouse has and yes he does pay for his beneifts.

acs said...

I will only say the School Board needs to look at the cost of everything as part of their job and reponsibility. As they did last year with our budget shortfall. They should make this ALL public when they get outside bids.
Most of us know well that you can save a lot of money by going to outside subcontractors for "non-core" district services like, busing, maintenance, admin support, food....
Again any union that thinks they can beat the pricing of outside firms is fooling themselves.....
They union needs to take offer and run fast based on the fact that the board is even entertaining outside bids....but I bet they don't for all the reasons I put in prior posts....

JS said...

Ok, maybe Mr. O'Connor can chime in, but I will say this one more time.

Yes the Board has to be consistent, and yes they have the right to look at cost cutting measures (i.e. entertain bids, etc.)

What is not allowed to happen is to have people berate a group of people (in this case the support staff) about being greedy and dissalusioned when (and I will say this again) they haven't been able to agree to ANY offer. Yes they know what the offer will be, but they haven't been able to sign anything.

Stop demeaning people for something another group is doing.

ACS, try reading this a couple of times to make sure you get it straight.

acs said...

JS, OK whatever...We will wait for William to weigh in.

William O'Connor said...

Check back around 9pm. I'll have a few comments then.

William O'Connor said...

Prior to the end of last school year both sides exchanged proposals. So the claims that there have been no offers put on the table are wrong. Please don't get into semantics over the difference between a proposal and an offer. Bottom line - both sides knew exactly what the other was looking for and had the opportunity to accept or reject it.

Since negotiations between the two sides are active and ongoing, I cannot provide any more details at this point.

Regarding employee benefits, it's true there are part time employees within the Support Staff who do not receive medical benefits. But for those who do, there is no monthly contribution.

Concerning the Support Staff themselves, I've known many of these fine people over the years and it pains me that we find ourselves in this situation. Unfortunately these and all the other labor group negotiations were inevitable at some point because previous boards and administrations weren't as aggressive at controlling costs as they could have been. It's just a roll of the dice that now is the time (lucky me).

At the end of the day, the real issue is more than just controlling costs. It's about ensuring that we can adequately fund our educational programs and resources - and that's becoming a more difficult trick every year. This board believes the offers we have put forth allow us to continue offering a competitive wage and benefit package to our employees while continuing to support our childrens education - all within Act 1 financial guidelines. It's sort of like the academia version of maintaining a football team within the league-defined salary cap.

Just a few random thoughts from me. Feel free to chime in with your own. As always, I appreciate what you have to say (except if you're abc123).

acs said...

William, First thanks for substantiating my view of this. Second you are exactly right to focus on the kids and educational quality. This is the issue no one seems to grasp or can connect the dots. The reason that school boards have been forced to cut programs is run away labor costs over the past 20 years. It has now caught up to us with 75-80% of budget costs. Without large labor concessions, quality and programs will suffer. It is just sinple math since the tax base is shrinking and taxpayers have lost their incomes and benefits and therefore their ability to prop up public workers with free rides.
The misconception among many district residents and educators is money for labor = quality. The lines have long since crossed and labor cost(especially healthcare) now is drastically impacting educational quality.
So, if the unions continue to force the issue and demands for a free ride , the board, like last year's budget will have to continue to hack away at budget in other areas like outsourcing staff and program cuts.
This is why I made the earlier comment about Boyd not standing up for support staff. The irony for the support staff union is that if teacher continue to hold out for outrageous demands the board will likely be forced to outsource all of support services to save the difference so teachers can continue to get their free ride.
I wonder if the support union sees the squeeze they are in....they have no option here but taking the board offer. We will see if they connect the dots in time.

csld said...

Yes I believe as a support saff person that we will wind up taking the hit for the people who have benefits and are refusing to pay for them, This is just my opinon but I believe that there are support staff that are coming to the realization that they will need to pay for their benefits if they want to keep their jobs.It just unfortunate that someone like me who does not have benefits may lose my job over something that does not even pertain to me.
In my opinon the teachers union is going to work for as long as they can without a contract because they are not losing they are not paying for their benefits so every month that goes by is a win for them and more thsn likely a losing sitution for support staff.Again this is just my opinon.

acs said...

CSLD, I am sorry but the WHOLE country pays for there benefits if they have jobs NO MATTER HOW MUCH INCOME THEY MAKE. It is time that public workers share in the pleasure 85% of the country has with healthcare costs!!!

That being said I do hope you can keep your job I do not want anyone losing their job. I think tough the outcome is totally up to the Union leaders for Support staff and especially teachers. You need to remember this is the board that conducted the first layoffs of personnel in NSD history that should tell you something about where this is headed. If the Unions both persist with demands that are unseemly to the community, further draconian actions, like outsourcing, will need to continue to balance our budget in 2010 as well.

srodos said...

Focusing on education is the right idea. However, no one says that we will apply any savings to improve the education of the students. There is tons of money to be saved in transportation by providing our own transportation to the I.U. rather than paying them for transportation. Other districts are cutting back on payments to the I.U. Our district does not appear to have anyone on the board who questions the exorbitant amounts paid to the I.U. and for other professional services.

nostradamus said...

You are a good person csdl and I also pray for your job. Based on what others have said, William included, it sounds as though the support union leaders will eventually come around to your way of thinking.
The teachers really aren't winning as you say. Yes they benefit for the moment financially but their salaries will lose ground to surrounding districts and they'll never get that back. They perceive themselves as winning only because their vision is limited. The board's vision is greater and they are committed to seeing this through.
It's like playing chess against Bobby Fischer. You thought you were winning but you had already lost - you just couldn't see it yet.
My prediction remains unchanged: The next teachers contract will not be signed until 2012.

csld said...

Thank you I appreciate the nice comments.I have a feeling that this union(support staff)will come to a agreement soon.As far as the teachers I hope your wrong about 2012 because I too am a neshaminy tax payer and every year at this time I cringe at how much my taxes are.

JS said...

Maybe CSLD can speak directly as to what "proposal" the Support Staff was given by the District.

I can speak via 3rd party (as I asked a number of Support Staff whether they knew of any proposals given or received), but would want CSLD to give first hand information to be the most accurate.

If not, then I'll speak up, but I'll hold off on that.

With that being said, it is odd Mr. O'Connor that the Board touted when they had offered the same level of contract to the Administrators (even prior to them signing it). If the same was extended to the Support Staff why not highlight that as well?

There are some specific details I hope CSLD will talk about first, but I will if I have to.

Again, ACS I agree about people having to pay benefits and not free loading on the public dime. I just think in this case you are putting too much of the perspective of the teachers on the Support Staff. Seriously, aim the venom where it's needed. Remember more Support Staff were fired than teachers this year, so there are many already doing more work for the same money (and will undoubtedly be doing that same level of work for less money even in the near future). Just because there is a union and a negotiation doesn't mean there is the same level of greed.

acs said...

Sorry JS, Welcome to the real world. Sounds like lots of whining to me. The stuff these people are complaining about it the stuff people in the real world have been dealing with for decades.
No sympathy coming from this direction for any Union. All publice workers need to pay their way like to rest of us. ALL the free rides are gone. Read a newspaper tomorrow and you may learn the reality out here.

JS said...

Try reading anything I've posted concerning the contract issues for the district. I've never said anything BUT people should be paying for medical benefits. I've been vocal against the teachers demands and even commented that maybe the Board should take their offer back and go lower (which they can't do now that multiple groups have accepted essentially that level of offer).

I can understand the venom, and I can understand thinking there is greed... when it comes to the teachers.

All I'm saying is that this situation is not the same. No other group has had to work (with out a contract) while their employer is looking for bids to give away their jobs. There is no tenure here, no state wide union to hide behind.

This group is concerned about keeping their JOBS not keeping the status quo.

You say they should accept the same offer that is on the table for everyone else. Maybe they weren't given that level of offer. (Unlike every other group there hasn't been ANY reference to the Support Staff turning down that type of offer).

The reason I am vocal about this is because I know a good many of the people in this group. I tell them every time that they will have to pay for benefits. That doesn't mean they are being like the teachers and being stubborn and greedy.

All they are doing is performing their jobs getting the building, equipment, and grounds ready for students, all while working with out a new contract, and at the same time that their jobs are being shopped around. Unlike the teachers who can't get replaced at whim, these people (who don't have any job security at all) go about their jobs (with no buttons) with less people than they did last year.

Yes there should be no free rides, and yes I read the paper and know reality. Before you condemn people for being greedy, maybe you should know for sure if that's what is happening.

csld said...

To be honest the only thing that I know first hand is that the board wants to contract out services when ever they want and also to be able to hire or fire anyone at any time.Other than that I do not know of any offer that was dicussed.And of course the board wants the people who do have benefits to pay 15 16 and 17 percent of them.
JS what have you heard?
ACS there are no free rides her like I told you many times I alot of suporrt staff do not get benefits and also I do not get paid with tax dollars so for you to group us all together is just wrong.

acs said...

All full time employees get benefits. That is what we are talking about. All of this costs taxpayers money do not obfuscate.
Greed is in the eye of the beholder.
JS, I too know many people....many people-friends who lost jobs, lost pensions, lost HC benefits, some who are losing houses....many are suffering a lot more than the statistics tell you....AND none of them are public workers....

....Because this has really not happened to public worker in any way shape or form. I agree the ONLY reason the board had to lay off workers was due to teacher union greed.

This is all about changing the union fantasy world for public workers to the real world we all live in.

It will be rough going til they all get used to since frankly they are getting free rides compared to any private sector workers for the most part...JUST LIKE NONE OF US WERE USED TO IT AS CORPORATE AMERICA AND SMALL BUSINESS took every benefit we had away just so we could compete with the world....AND why was most of this done-UNION GREED of the past 40 years.

CSLD you should speak up at next board meeting for your plight....tell you union to settle quickly with board offer whatever it is....this is not a board or community for that matter in the mood to negotiate with the ridiculous level of all current contracts.

abc123 said...

Yes csld, abandon your union in their time of need. Maybe as a food service worker you haven't had need for the unions support but many co-workers have. When the district has unjustifiably wanted to take action against a worker or when they wouldn't stand up against parents or misbehaving students, the union was there for the workers.
The public wants district employees to take the cuts workers in the corporate world are taking, but my question is why should any worker take any cuts when corporate greed far outweighs the needs of the worker? When a union fights for its employees, it also fights for all workers. Even you ACS. You must have seen the TV ads for the AC casinos where the workers are being denied basic benefits while the ceo's line their own pockets with dozens of millions of dollars. Why is it that the average employee is being asked to give up salary and benefits but the Wall Street big wigs are only being asked to give up a portion of their 7 figure bonuses? It has gotten too easy to go after the working class man and woman instead of holding responsible the real culprits of or current economic disaster.
I also want to apologize for my nazi reference in a previous comment. It was not my intent to insult the people of our fine community. I just am disappointed in William O'Connor who I thought would be a true leader when he got on the school board instead of becoming a puppet boy for the political power mongers.

William O'Connor said...

Let's see if I've got this right. I'm a puppet because I don't agree with you. CSLD is a traitor because she doesn't agree with you. It's a shame there is no room in your world for opposing points of view. You don't use facts or thoughtful dialogue to defend your opinions. You rely on name-calling and intimidation.
If you ever really want to attack my record on this board, then come out into the light of day and challange me instead of hiding behind an anonymous blog. But that will never happen, will it abc123?

csld said...

Excuse me ABC123 but at what point did I turn on the union.Maybe I missed something.I have read your previous post where you think calling people names are the proper thing to do but I am not going to lower myself to your level.Just because I am an union employee does not mean I can't have my own opinion.

Pianomom said...

William O'Connor a puppet? Are you kidding me? Was he a puppet when he went against the board majority to fight political patronage in an administrative appointment? Or when he tried to eliminate pay to play awarding of contracts to political patrons? When the board closed Tawanka and sent those students to an overcrowded high school, it was William who made sure they had adequate classroom space. If you don't believe me, just ask any of the Tawanka staff.

Speaking of puppets, who is pulling your strings?

srodos said...

ABC123 why don't you just apologize for your stupid remarks without taking another shot at Mr. O'Connor.

acs said...

ABC123, First I think all people work and that in the US there is no such things as "classes" when you refer to "working class". In America anyone can make it with brains and hard work. That is why we are unique in the world. Unions served a good purpose for exploited workers many years ago. Unfortunately the world changed and the pattern of union control failed as the USA became uncompetitive. That is why now only 12% of workers are in unions and 50% of them or Public. Unions have in the end destroyed American workers..it is just a fact.

Now Public workers will be forced to concessions since private workers no longer can afford it and they feel put upon by unions preying on them for greed driven demands like free healthcare and unnatural raises.

Anyway it is really not worth explaining to someone like you and I think William should ban you but I give him tons of credit for posting your absurd rants.

William O'Connor said...

After much consideration I have suspended abc123 from posting comments for a 30 day period. He may post comments again beginning October 1st assuming he can do so with civility and respect to all on the blog.

Gabriel said...

Good decision William. Nobody should be subjected to such ignorants and insults especially when you go out of your way to be so respectful of others.

I have a few friends who work in the district and the rumor is that the support staff is coming around in their thinking, and they will likely come back to the board with a counter on the benefits contribution but will accept the other aspects of the board's offer. I don't see how the board can agree to a reduced benefits contribution unless the workers agree to a less expensive health plan, but at least this is a sign of negotiation. I hope the teachers will also come around in their thinking but the rumor mill says the NFT has dug in its heels and isn't likely to back down any time soon.

acs said...

The board will not compromise on HC contribution since the teachers have not settled, especially if they all insist on keeping the premium HC package that no one else has. Simple negotiation tactics....again board has all the chips in the game now...and for once in NSD history. The teachers Union has lost a lot of support over the past year so the board knows now all they have to do is hold firm.

I think the best thing for those of us that oppose union strong arming is fro them to dig their heals in.....I wonder how all those younger teachers, that do not really support the union, will like not getting a raise after years and years of digging their heals in....funny way to negotiate with a board backed completely by the community. Maybe they are smarter than they seem but really looks like a no win to me.

csld said...

You pretty much hear different opinions when it comes to the teachers some of them feel that they deserve every penny and should not have to pay for their benefits others feel it is a given that they would pay for their benefits and younger teachers you hear them say that they are not happy that they arent on top of the pay scale and chances are they never will be now but they all still wear their stickers or buttons saying how many days they have gone with out a contract.I too believe what Gabriel said that the support staff is coming around and hopefully their is an agreement in sight

Jake said...

I've got an idea for taxpayer pins: "3,285 days overpaying for free teacher benefits"

acs said...

Jake, You Da MAN!! This is why taxpayers need to come to meetings and unite.
I wonder if students would be permitted to wear shirts that said "NSD Taxpayers Rights Organization" in the classroom?? I have heard from mothers that are irate that NSD teachers wearing stickers have lectured their class on how unfar the board is and how they are underpaid etc etc....

William O'Connor said...

If there is a teacher lecturing their students about this situation in class, that should be reported to the building principal. This is a big person's problem, and neither side should be dragging the students into it. If students have questions, they should be speaking with their parents.

neshaminy4ever said...

I assume you came up with 3285 days based on the last 2 contracts (total of 9 years) but remember the teachers have gone a year without a contract so that means taxpayers have been absorbing the cost of free benefits for at least 10 years. Your number should be 3650 days.

acs said...

I agree William, however just allowing them to wear stickers and NFT shirt in classrooms raises the opportunity for an inappropriate discussion that they apparently see no problem engaging in. It seems frankly, that the board and superintendent should address this issue with their employees. The Mothers have complained but you know how affraid parents are of teacher reprisals in most cases.

Enough Already! said...

I have had the opportunity to witness the teachers wearing their shirts every Friday since the contract expired. I asked several teachers who they were wearing the shirts for, since the taxpayers and school board are not in the classroom to see them and they said it was to show support for each other. Ask a teacher what happens when they don't wear the shirt. You will get an interesting response.