Thursday, May 20, 2010

Children become pawns in contract battle

So much for prayers.

Just after my last post was published, I began receiving word from parents throughout the district that teachers were removing all art work and decorations from the walls of their classes – a first sign of a WTC action.

Now comes confirmation that the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers will indeed take this battle into the classroom and put it directly in front of those most innocent . . . your children. The following, which was provided courtesy of a faculty member, is a set of instructions issued by NFT leadership to teachers at Neshaminy High School, and the plan goes into effect on Monday, May 24th. I have not seen the action plans for the lower grades.




Please remember that many of our teenage students do read this blog, and so I must ask you to keep this in mind when posting your comments. As always, I reserve the right to edit comments as I deem appropriate.
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74 comments:

forthestudents said...

I would appreciate it if Louise Boyd would explain how this work to contract action benefits our students! It seems as though everyone but the teachers are willing to make concessions to help meet budget constraints. It's time for the teachers to also be willing to make concessions. To start, how about covering the premiums for your family's health insurance like the rest of us paying your salaries! I think it should be embarrassing to the teachers to use the students as pawns to try to get your outrageous demands met!

MAT said...

as far as the lower grades, Kindergarten water day, second grade parent kick-ball game have all been cancelled. 5th grade celebrations will not include teachers,

Levittowner said...

I always appreciated my kids' teachers and really appreciated those who went above and beyond. However, theyare not only hurting our kids, they also opened a can of worms. The benchmark for "contract" work is way too low.
I think the contracts should be changed ...include more hours in prep time/grading time and summer hours at work so "work to contract" will support their pay grade.

MAT said...

From what I was told, by a teacher from another district, this is their way to get parents to stand up to the school board and demand that they negotiate with the teachers????? I pretty much think they are all delusional right about now.

KClarinet said...

"Kindergarten water day, second grade parent kick-ball game have all been cancelled."

Thank goodness! For this year at least maybe they'll stay in their classrooms and actually do work during those times. :-)

Really, how much do these hurt kids? Get upset about something more important.

acs said...

Mat you are right. This is from the union playbook. Old as dirt. Precedes striking. They are micalculating. Parents all pay for healthcare now. In 1980 no one paid and healthcare was very cheap. Boyd is not to bright if she thinks this works with parents. Oh by the way 70% of taxpayers have no kids in school and they are paying through the nose on healthcare especialy those small businesses and people who lost jobs. Anderson and Boyd have really made a mess of NSD singlehandedly.

JustanObserver said...

I would imagine the point of working to the contract is to show the parents and community just how much work that teachers do OUTSIDE of their current contract. Does this tactic benefit the students? No. But it's probably in place to show the school board that the large amount of work that teachers do extends well beyond the school day. Do nurses take home their patients? No. Do Lawyers bring home their clients? No. Do teachers take home papers to be graded, lessons to be worked on and make phone calls to parents after their work day ends? Yes. I don't think they're using the students as pawns, just unfortunately caught in the crossfire of a battle that should have been resolved a year ago.

KClarinet said...

I know over the next couple of days that the comments on this will become more and more emotional and even hysterical, and I don't intend to put myself in the position of defending WTC any more than I've defended most of the NFT leadership's tactics. But really, it's hard to see why anyone is frothing about this now - it's just another step in the process and was more or less inevitable once the impasse extended beyond the 2008-9 school year. The problem is that there is no remedy given to either side by the state. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in its infinite wisdom simply said nothing in the current law about how to end these school contract disputes.

As everyone considers how best to top each other in saying "greedy and delusional," just consider that the teachers are the same people they were last week and last year and the year before the contract expired. Either they were greedy and rotten to the core then, or they still deserve a little respect now. They think they have some defensible points to make if they can get to a serious bargaining session, and some of them are pretty smart people (or were last year and the year before).

I don't think anyone really expects parents to go running to the board to support the unions as a result of working to the contract. Frankly, I don't think the NFT leaders or, by now, most of its members, really expect much public support from anyone. The public has shown its sympathies lie with the board and its position on taxes.

I know MAT didn't mean to imply that parent kick-ball games are really what's important in all of this, and that canceling them is going to destroy the kids' chance at a decent education. But that's the kind of emotional reaction that inevitably builds up.

As I said in another thread, a school is basically teachers and students working together. The rest is extra. So long as the basic process of teaching and learning between teachers and students isn't disrupted by hysteria on either side, the kids' basic education will remain intact. And the kids will simply see what they already know to be true from living in a world every day with adults - that sometimes grown-ups get stubborn and stop making complete sense.

LetsBePractical said...

I understand the many comments stating thay by working to their contracts, the NFT is "showing the children that they are not committed" or that they are "not making concessions", etc.

On the other hand, I also believe that perhaps by working to the contract, the NFT is actually trying to demonstrate that they have made many concessions for over 2 years by working without a contract, and going above and beyond what is required, BECAUSE they are committed to the children.

I just don't think that it is as easy as one side is right and the other side is wrong as both sides would like us to believe. In my experience, there are always 3 sides to a story. I think that it is time that we get some BINDING arbitration going here, with an unbiased 3rd party. Then we can all move on.

Str8 Shutr said...

I'm sick of the "nobody appreciates what teachers do" crap. Every job has challenges. What makes teachers different? Nothing! Maybe nurses don't take work home, but some of them are involved with life and death every day. And don't even compare the work brought home by a lawyer. Most of those maniacs work 70 and 80 hours a week. The problem is that teachers take themselves too seriously. Get over it.
Does the job suck sometimes? Sure. I wouldn't pretend that I could be a good teacher. But for the ones who are, they are compensated incredibly in Neshaminy. Let's be honest, if we offered teachers everything they demanded but said we don't respect what they do, they'd take the deal in a heartbeat. This isn't about respect or empathy, it's about money and power.
If the purpose of this WTC thing is to gain sympathy from the public, forget it. It's probably what others have said - a strategy to anger parents so they'll yell at the school board to make more concessions. Well they got half of it right because parents are furious!

LetsBePractical said...

Well said KC.....

acs said...

KC, Yes my friend teachers were greedy 2 years ago and 5 and 10 and now. And you can write lots of words but the bottom line is simple-there is no money for them anymore And the baord has NO possible way to get the money even if they were inclined to. Therefore there really is no impass at all. The teachers have to concede or not have any contract at all in the future which is OK as I have said here many timse. That is the really funny irony for those of us that think public worker unions are runing America and sucking local taxpayers dry. They will now get what they deserve for their current and past greed. Seriously I read the long posts of yours but what you need to do is read the budgets. The board has no way to pay even for the offer they made in May 2008 let alone a compromise. They cannot raise enough in either revenue or taxes. Why do people insist on saying that the board should negotiate. THEY CANNOT DO THIS EVEN IF THEY WANTED. Do you think they are outsourcing just for the hell of it???William HELP ME AGAIN HERE.

MAT said...

Kc. What do you tell a 6year old who has been looking forward to water day. They all know about it. Have siblings that have gotten it. It may not be a big thing to an adult. But a 6 year old has a different mind. If you don't think they will not notice things being cancelled, rooms stripped of their creations. You're wrong.

acs said...

And oh yes do not forget the independent fact finder chosen by NESPA confirmed " this district is in severe financial condition" warranting an unprecedented recommendation to outsource busing. Do you and NFT need more proof the board isnt hiding money in Joe's office or do we need to watch Ms Boyd stumble through more budget pages at an open mic making a sad spectacle yet again trying to find misplaced pennies for her free healthcare demand?

William O'Connor said...

You're doing just fine, ACS. You don't need my help. I do enough talking. Let others have the floor.

JustanObserver said...

I'd be curious to know if/when the union president actually polled the rest of the union to see what their interests and desires for settling actually were. I'd bet it hasn't happened in at least two years.
I would imagine that the teachers at the bottom of the pay scale are pretty ticked-off at all of this. Those are the ones that stand to lose the most. Not just in a financial sense though, those younger teachers, the ones that can bring fresh new ideas into the classrooms, the ones that have the skill and desire to integrate technology into their lessons. They're not able to do that anymore. It's unfortunate, but the new talent will end up being lost to other districts, while the older veteran teachers will continue to whip out worksheets that haven't been altered since the Clinton administration.
It's also those younger teachers that are more than willing to pay for health insurance, because they're used to it, if they have EVER held any other job in this country they would know, and expect to pay for, some sort of percentage of their coverage.

KClarinet said...

"Therefore there really is no impass at all. The teachers have to concede or not have any contract at all..."

So it's not an impasse because you're certain one side is wrong? Why bother with collective bargaining at all - just ask ACS what the new contract should be. ;-)

"Seriously I read the long posts of yours but what you need to do is read the budgets."

I plead guilty to long posts, but as for reading budgets, you do that for me and report pretty clearly what condition they're in.

"The board has no way to pay even for the offer they made in May 2008 let alone a compromise. They cannot raise enough in either revenue or taxes."

No, not within the 2.9% limit - but that's a choice.

"Why do people insist on saying that the board should negotiate."

Because by law it's a collective bargaining process. Why have a contract at all if only the board gets input?

"THEY CANNOT DO THIS EVEN IF THEY WANTED."

Shouting is one of the reasons we're where we are. More completely, you (and others)are shouting, the board is not negotiating and the NFT is woodenly keeping its mouth shut.

"Do you think they are outsourcing just for the hell of it???"

No, they're doing that to keep your taxes lower.

KClarinet said...

MAT wrote:
"What do you tell a 6year old who has been looking forward to water day. They all know about it. Have siblings that have gotten it. It may not be a big thing to an adult. But a 6 year old has a different mind. If you don't think they will not notice things being cancelled, rooms stripped of their creations. You're wrong."

Well, I'm old fashioned enough to think that one of the things that has gone wrong with education in the last 40 years is that we put too much value on what kids want instead of what they need.

I don't know why the teachers have been told to strip their bulletin boards - seems like that's more work than just leaving them alone. But how important can "water day" be and what would they have learned from it? It's just a way to kill time.

A six year old does have a different mind - it's immature. Having a 6 year old decide what's important seems somehow a little indulgent to me. Tell him that's not why he goes to school.

Peter said...

Some people below mention that the comments are going to become more "hysterical and emotional". Gotta tell ya - isn't that what life is all about?

Frankly, if I was a teacher, I'd feel pretty angry about being told to follow the work to contract - it is petty and childish. Things like "take down bulletin boards", "no laptops", etc. Extremely petty and childish AND it doesn't influence me as a parent to now rush the board and say "Oh no, board, look at what they are doing, hurry, give them what they want". Frankly, it makes me want to dig my heels in further and give you even less.

Go on strike guys and gals and lose the very little respect for you that is remaining. You don't deserve mine until you face reality and live in the real world. The teachers who are on board with this are not that smart. Hmmn, that says alot about my kids' education, doesnt it?

JS said...

KC, your argument pokes a big hole in one of the arguments EVERY teacher throws out to defend how much they are paid.

That their job entails MUCH more than what they do during the school day.

I agree that all that a teacher does isn't confined to the 7 hours a day they are in the building. That has to be factored in to how much they are already paid, or else a teacher making $70,000 a year for 192 days and 7 hours a day is getting paid $52/hour (or $110,000/year in a normal 40 hour/week job).

Anyone who is not a complete delusional nut would agree teachers (who actually care about teaching) put the time in. The problem is now the teachers will highlight exactly what they do for the students with those 7 hours.

If, as you say, it doesn't hurt the educational process and the students, then doesn't that prove that most teachers could perform their jobs within the 7 hour school days? Where does that put the "outside time" argument?

If the teachers need the "outside time" then that proves that it has hurt how they are serving the students and what does that serve?

The reason that WTC is a bad move is because it ONLY affects the students (whether by activities or educationally). There is no other affect a WTC effort produces except on the daily experience of the students.

Way to show that you are about the students and not about the money. Sorry KC the teachers can't have it both way, either you have to work outside the classroom or you don't.

Enough Already! said...

I have a 5th grader who just found out that her saftey party, Field Day, and her 5th grade move up ceremony are being altered or cancelled. We have decided to use this as a learning experience.She wrote a letter to her teacher, her principal, and the school board. The parents in our school have organinzed and WILL make these events happen, without the school if necessary. I consider it a lesson in life, how to overcome a situtation that stinks and still come out smiling. Is she sad that her teacher, who just the other day called their classroom a family, won't be there? You bet. Teacher's loss.

KIDSFIRST said...

If our teachers are the best and really care about their students and community they should easily be able to get together and submit a budget proposal to the board on how they think we can move forward for the 2010-2011 school year without cutting children's programs (under the budget we have to work with). If they cannot do this (which they should easily be able to do since they are the educators of our community) they are really sending a negative message about their qualifications and true intentions as teachers. They are sending a negative message to all parents and students by not moving forward and making FINANCIAL concessions like everyone else will have to do.

ChiefCrunchy said...

KC-your right about not raising the taxes over 2.9 being a choice and I believe it is a good one both my spouse and I have both taken a cut in our pay to keep our jobs.
This Is not about paying more in taxes WE-Neshaminy pay more per square foot than Council ROCK and WE-Neshaminy spend more of a percentage for Teachers Salaries and benefits than Council Rock. No, we don't not need to pay more in taxes we need to get those costs down first.

IrishFarm said...

In the face of being outsourced NESPA workers still showed concern about students at the last schoolboard meeting. By contrast our teachers sat there smugly knowing their jobs cannot be touched, and with the knowledge that our children would soon become pawns in their battle. I say save NESPA, outsource the NFT instead!

Rebecca said...

My 7 year old adores his teacher so much that at the beginning of the year he drew her a picture. At back to school night his teacher showed me that she taped it to the wall by her desk because it meant so much to her. Yesterday that picture came down.

It may be hard for some of you to understand how important those things are to children but believe me my son noticed. When he asked me about it when he got home I lied to him and said teachers have to clean the walls before the school year ends. I thought it was better that his feelings should be spared.

My dilemma is that I have one more lie to tell my son. On the kitchen counter sits a wrapped gift, an end of the year present that he and I bought for his teacher. There is no way I will allow that gift to be given to his teacher. Now I have to come up with an excuse to tell my son why he cannot give it to her. I'll think of something.

I hope that teacher reads this website and sees this note. She will know it is her I am talking about. I'm even using my real name on this message. I want her to know that thanks to a lie, her "daily dose of sunshine" will never know of her selfishness. I also want her to know that there is a special little gift that she will never see. Since my son's picture was nothing more than "an extra" to you, you probably won't even notice.

I apologize to the readers for this exhaustive message. I've been thinking all night what I wanted to say.

Susan said...

As I see it... Had the Board selected a specific number to start with (let's say 20% for the sake of argument...), it's probable the NFT would have come back with a "NO", but giving the benefit of the doubt here, they'd eventually have to propose some sort of contribution number to healthcare. I am operating under the premise that many teachers do not object to some sort of contribution, but because they're standing behind their union, those voices won't be heard. That is unfortunate, but the nature of unions as it were.

Yes, hindsight is 20/20 - meaning we all, teachers included, know the inevitable - that some sort of contribution has to be made. Because the NFT feels they were backed into a corner from the outset, they're digging in their heels now, just as the Board has done. The Board says they're ready to talk; the union says they've been ready to talk but no one wants to be first to pick up the phone. At the risk of sounding sarcastic, how about we enlist a state mediator to make a 3-way conference call then both sides can say they met and both can feel like they saved face???

My apologies to the group... this "I'm waiting for you!" and "No, I'm waiting for you!"-thing is just getting on my last nerve.

abc123 said...

That is really brilliant irishfarm. Oh yes let's save the janitor and get rid of the teacher. Just more proof that parents fail to appreciate the value of a teacher in a child's life. When will you see that THE TEACHER IS THE CLASS ROOM, not the decorations on the walls. You have NO IDEA how much teachers do. This work action won't scar you child for life but it will show you all the things teachers do that you fail to appreciate.
You must be so proud of yourself "MISTER O". You make nice little speeches at meetings and you are an internet sensation and you are the hero to parents and taxpayers alike, right? Well answer me this, if you are supposed to be the GREAT COMMUNICATOR then why aren't you on the negotiating committee? Why not put that great wisdom of yours to some real use? My guess is you wouldn't last 5 minutes in a negotiation session. Or is there some other reason you fear getting your hands dirty?
Don't worry, I won't use any WW-2 references on you. I've learned my lesson. Doesn't matter because you won't post this message anyway, or if you do you will edit it to shreds. May I assume that I am now banished from your blog forever?

Sad Poquessing parent said...

Rebecca, please don't apologize for your exhaustive message! In fact, please send it too the woman from the Courier who is doing an article about this. Your child is caught in the middle just as the rest of our children are. My children and I really do love all of the teachers that they have and have had through the years. My 7th grader came home yesterday and told me about all of the walls being cleaned off and after I explained to him what was going on, because at that level, I feel he has a right to know, he asked me, "Well why don't the teachers like us, we didn't cause this?". The teachers union thinks this is hurting the parents. It isn't. I am not the one sitting in the classroom seeing this or being hurt by the teachers not supporting end of year activities. These children are suffering and the teachers union will not benefit from any of it. I think more parents need to tell stories like yours.

acs said...

KC, NFT thinks negotiating is giving them what they demand. History lesson: In NSD they have always gotten what they demanded. So tell me that you think the board offer at 3% annual increase; 15,16,17% phased healthcare contribution isn't outstanding in today's environment. It is pure greed and the complete undying belief the NFT will ultimately get what they demand once again! By they way they believe with all certainty they will get retro pay in settlement as unions always do. Also collective bargaining does not equal negotiating. We are in negotiations now and the ball has been in the NFT court for 2 years now. The NSD board, whoever is on it will never cave now. Big problem for NFT. Now the NFT has made it our children's problem also.
Irish, Great point. We can outsource in a way by driving for bigger and more charter schools that are all Right To Work non union. This is near impossible with the stranglehold the teachers unions have on politicians in congress and state houses. Do you want to know a fact? We could send every NSD student to private schools and bus them there and have a per student cost that is significantly less than the NSD per student cost. Also NSD union teachers are among the highest paid in PA and by all measures of student performance NSD is middle of the road.
Yes we should keep throwing money down that rat hole folks it really seems to be working. Taxpayers need to give teachers fair compensation not compensation that is far better than 80% of the community paying their wages. The bubble is bursting for public worker unions just look around the country.
Sorry now I have joined you KC in writing a lot.

Amazing said...

Maybe the teachers should just strike since many of you believe they shouldn't be allowed to WTC. Make up your minds people.

acs said...

Susan, Agian the district can't pay for the current offer on the table if NFT took let alone a mediated solution. The board and taxpayers are backed into the corner here. The teachers are compensated at the top of any scale in PA or America and now have better benefits than 95% of taxpayers in Middletown. That is some corner THEY are in I wish we were all in that one.

Sad Poquessing parent said...

ACS or anyone else, can you give me some rough idea what the 15%-17% insurance contribution represents in an actual dollar figure? I keep seeing the percentages, but I am interested to know the actual dollar contribution that the teachers are being asked to put out.

Curious George said...

Mr. O'Connor, just a thought - you want teachers to work longer days for less pay - but you spend the day posting to your blog. What is your profession. Are you stealing time from your employer? I don't expect you to publish this - but I am one of many who finds this question interesting.

KClarinet said...

JC wrote:

"If, as you say, it doesn't hurt the educational process and the students, then doesn't that prove that most teachers could perform their jobs within the 7 hour school days? Where does that put the "outside time" argument?"

My comment mostly aimed at MAT's concern about bulletin boards and "water day." But my overall comment was "So long as the basic process of teaching and learning between teachers and students isn't disrupted by hysteria on either side, the kids' basic [emphasis added] education will remain intact." I don't deny the value of the "extra" parts of the process. And I don't deny that the overall (as distinct from basic)quality of education doesn't suffer in the absence of the things teachers can't get done during their 7 daily contracted hours. I guess I'd just like to be able to focus that discussion on more important issues than a canceled "water day."

To respond to your post on a more general level, I didn't (and don't) defend WTC at all. It's one more step in a process that's been mostly ham-handed on both sides. I think all I said about it (if I went farther, tell me where - I may have overstated my point) was that this shouldn't have surprised anyone and that the stürm und dräng over it is largely a waste of energy.

KClarinet said...

ACS wrote:
"NFT thinks negotiating is giving them what they demand."

It's really beyond me how you come up with these sweeping statements about other people's mindsets - people you apparently know barely if at all.

"So tell me that you think the board offer at 3% annual increase; 15,16,17% phased healthcare contribution isn't outstanding in today's environment."

That's not my call. You're entitled to an opinion, of course.

"It is pure greed and the complete undying belief the NFT will ultimately get what they demand once again!"

Again - how do you know what "the NFT" believes? They've made an absolutely inflexible point of not telling us. This is nothing but soapbox rhetoric and doesn't become any more meaningful (or necessarily even accurate) for having been repeated ad infinitum.

"By they way they believe with all certainty they will get retro pay in settlement as unions always do."

Ditto my last comment (how can you possibly know?), but for what it's worth, the teachers I know personally do not for a minute believe there will be any retro-activity. They only assume that if salaries are not retroactive then nothing else will be, either.

"Also collective bargaining does not equal negotiating."

That's an odd formulation. What does collective bargaining mean (equal), then?

"Now the NFT has made it our children's problem also."

It has always been our children's problem ultimately.

I hope these reactions have been short enough, since you object to my long posts. :-)

Ivy League said...

Somebody... please.... hand... me... a...tissue...It's all I can do to stop the sobbing.

Last night at dinner each of us (wife and three kids) took turns reading aloud the original post and the first few comments to be posted. (we used the youngest's long-forgotten Barbie Karoke mic) in graver and graver voices. "

Mr. O'Connor implored people to be mindful of their posts because teenagers read them.

First of all, it should be read... as an example of melodramatic. I submit the following as an example,

"I don’t even want to imagine a moment where a wide-eyed child approaches their teacher and asks for after-school help with an assignment, and the teacher says no." (pass me a tissue... oh wait, that's right... we don't have any.)

Secondly, shouldn't the NSD board and Chuckie Sweet-n-Low be held responsible for NOT having anticipated this? Isn't it their responsibility to think ahead and plan and AVOID circumstances like this from happening? I mean you've had two years. TWO years... They have known the teachers have worked professionally with NO interruptions for two full years. The NSD board is LOVING this...

I stopped posting comments here a long time ago because I was disgusted by the mutual admiration society (membership numbers in tens) spewing the same rhetoric.

I remember being ridiculed on this blog, and the Courier's, for reminding the community about all these extras our teachers do for our kids. I was told basically to shut up, no one cared and I was a liberal whiner.

It's laughable because two years ago NONE of you cared about this stuff, the "extras."

When I mentioned them, people were quick to admonish me; it was all about SCORES SCORES SCORES. (Well I guess I really can't blame the board and thier thugs; they needed to continue that chorus until Kadri was dead, buried and long forgotten.)

One of the moms at Wednesday's meeting suggested that if the teachers really cared they would work harder to show us how much they care. Ummmm..... can someone remind her that they have done that for the last two years. I didn't hear a board member say that.

As for Rebecca: what a great idea! You have made a fabulous decision about the teacher's wrapped gift.

You are teaching your son it's okay to have "conditional appreciation" and to think only about himself.

I am sure you have hurt the teacher, just as you planned to do, with your post, but I bet she's not that upset that she won't be getting another candle/coffee mug/Special teacher plague. I bet she's upset that you are quick to forget the past eight months. YOU have put your child in the middle by lying and not allowing him to give the gift he wants to give.

If you wanted to teach your son a real lesson, one that he will always remember, I suggest you sit him down and tell him that for two years his teacher and all of her friends have worked hard like they always do, even while being attacked. All the Mommies and Daddies knew about it, but we didn't care as long as you were happy! We didn't stand up for her...

Well now, Mrs. X is standing up for her family and her rights and what she believes in, and we should appreciate her for what's she has done and not forget all that she did for you this year. So since we love Mrs. X so much, maybe we should trust her and realize there must be a very good reason she would do something so drastic. After all, you know she would never want to hurt you, or any of her students, personally.

OR....

Go ahead and lie to yourself, and sadder still, lie to your son.

acs said...

Sad, I believe roughly $3.5M per year savings. With NESPA contract that mindy rejected about $4.5M total per year-this is enough not to outsource support staff and cut programs. In other words NESPA needed NFT to settle but NFT could care less about NESPA. Ergo outsourcing is now a requirement unless, the NESPA gives back $3M per year to match the Private bids which I assume is what is happening in all those meetings Webb talked about...you think that will happen? Never know since the bus drivers said they would take anything NOW!! Thanks for nothing Mindy.
KC, I know you want to debate the points her but My "facts" are based on 60 years of history of CB outcomes in PA one of the most labor friendly states in US especially to teachers unions. As well is factual inside information. Peace brother, I am sure you mean well but unions have CBA laws stacked heavily in their favor so by definition a School district is in a weak position. But you say give them a fair hearing etc. By law it isn't fair since unions have the CBA advantage 100% of the time.All a board can do is what ours is doing. Not settling since they DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY. (sorry have to scream since no one seems to believes this and if Mindy and Louise read this) There is little to no precedent where 100% of retro was withheld in PA for a teachers union CB settlement. Look if you want to throw my lines out and attack you will need to study facts and get yourself inside information of what the union has certainly said in negotiation and what Boyd's very clear position has been since June of 2008-no healthcare contribution whatsoever or we will not sit back down. Ms. Boyd put on a great performance last week. Unfortunately very little to nothing she said was true or accurate. You are welcome to call my comments opinions I really do not care since I present facts when possible and when I know. Please study PA teacher union CBA case law and settlement precedent. Also get some close trusted friends in unions and other places if you are able to so you find stuff out!! I am sure if you call William he can help you to understand where things are and why the board is not physically able to budge off the current offer. The only reason it has not been withdrwan...are you ready here is another fact...ready....because the board has and will continue to negotiate in good faith and has made an extremely fair offer so they could not be attack for making a ridiculous offer like Simon and Pennsbury did. No one in NSD can criticize the board offer as not being more than generous based on private sector taxpayers current situation. The freaking rest of the world pays for everything and is getting no increases and are now Still paying for well off teachers!!! Peace out KC

acs said...

Sad, Sorry per teacher would be roughly 15,16,17 % of the average cost of healthcare which is $22K per teacher per year. So $3,300.00 to $3700.00. Is that what you want? There is a website out now that has all this information on this and NSD issues if William wants to link or tell you.

John Q. Public said...

how would chiefcrunchy know how much property/school taxes are in council rock. CR has a 1% earned income tax and occupation tax, unless salaries are public knowledge the taxes can't be compared. I would think CR pays more or is at least even to NSD in the tax dept.

forthestudents said...

Here's an option. Maybe the school board should follow President Reagan's example and fire the teachers and start over. I would love to have a job where I only work approximately 8 1/2 months in a year. Most of us who work in the business world only have 2-4 weeks paid vacation annually. The teachers who don't agree with the outrageous demands by the union should join together and stand up to union leadership and maybe an agreement can be reached.

William O'Connor said...

Sad Poquessing – Previously we used an average monthly per-employee figure of $1600 to estimate health care costs, but we haven’t adjusted that in quite a while. Based on current insurance estimates of the top tier plan given to our employees, that per-employee average is now around $2100 per month.

William O'Connor said...

ABC123 – Why would I even think of censoring your comment when it says so much more about you than I ever could? Do you even realize how insulting your statement “Oh yes let’s save the janitor and get rid of the teacher” is? I think there are a few NESPA workers out there who would like to speak with you. I won’t even bother addressing the other parts of your rant. But you’ll be happy to know that you haven’t been banned from this blog yet because you’re just too much darn fun.

William O'Connor said...

Curious George – How thoughtful of you to be concerned about my job, but fear not. My blogging is pretty much done on my own time at night, early in the morning, or even during my lunch break (when I get one). I don’t always have enough time to complete a post in one sitting and on those occasions it takes a couple days or more. Actually my school board duties are more likely to infringe on my work day, and I openly communicate any scheduling conflicts with my manager. It’s not really a big issue with them since they know I come in early, work late, work weekends, holidays, even occasionally while I’m on vacation, and I travel for them. I’d love to chat more but lunch break is almost over. Gotta go!

William O'Connor said...

Nice to have you back Eyes, I mean Ivy League. Yeah, I’ll admit I can be a little dramatic at times. Guilty as charged. It’s just my style, what can I say? Now that you’re back, I’m hoping you’ll answer a question for me – a question that you avoided when I asked it to you on this blog, and also when I asked it to you on the Courier site (probably a year ago or more). You know the basics of the Board offer (3% avg raise, 15%-17% healthcare contribution, eliminate $27.5k retirement perk) and you know the basics of the NFT offer (6% avg raise, no health care contribution, increase retirement perk to $30k). If you were King for a day, what would be the contract terms you would choose?

William O'Connor said...

ACS, KClarinet - You know I love you guys and I would never want to limit your comments, but can you please work on shorter responses? I'm an offender sometimes too and I'm working on it.

Sad Poquessing parent said...

Wow, what a shame it is and how ridiculous we all, myself included, are to keep trading barbs with each other. Shouldn't this ultimately be about giving the kids the great education that Neshaminy has always prided itself on as well as giving the teachers a fair contract all while not killing the taxpayers? All of this bantering is getting nothing done. I can't believe that in this day and age with everything else to deal with in this world that a group of highly educated teachers cannot get together with their union leaders and the school board and work together as adults for the good of the district they chose to work in and get this matter resolved! Whoever is pulling the strings and not allowing that to happen should be ashamed of themselves. There are wonderful teachers here and wonderful students...a lot of pretty good parents too and lastly a great district all around. We really need to get it together because it is becoming a little embarrassing.

acs said...

YES

William O'Connor said...

Thanks!

acs said...

Sad, For what it is worth opinion or fact(it really is Fact) this is all on Louise,her ego and the senior certified staff that are hanging on to the past glory days when the NFT got their wishes fulfilled by weak board directors in bed with them. This is not the board realy at all. I know many disagree but the "facts" do not support the NFT at all.

JS said...

John Q, the millage rates for districts are quoted in the paper every year around this time.

Even more than that you can go to http://www.buckscounty.org/government/departments/finance/boardofassessment/MillageRates.aspx and every millage rate for every municipality and school district.

Millage rates for Neshaminy were 152 mils, and for Council Rock 107.

An assessed property of 30,000 (or roughly $300,000 sale price) would have $4560 in taxes for Neshaminy and $3210 in taxes for Council Rock. Now as for the per square foot argument, that would depend on the assessed properties.

Now back to the WTC issue.

I will ask all those who support the teachers and disagree that the WTC will impact students this question.

Do you feel a teacher who only works 1344 hours a year is overpaid making $80,000 a year?

Now remember a normal job working 8 hour days and 50 weeks a year entails 2000 hours. An equivilant hourly rate would make this person earn $120,000.

I would like to hear if they are overpaid for only 1334 hours of work per year. I'm pretty sure that most of you would say "No, they aren't overpaid because they do so much outside of the school day. They are worth what they are paid."

If that's the case you now have a problem. The teachers are now vowing to ONLY work those 1334 hours a year. So now you can't claim they are worth the uncontracted time they work because they aren't working it (or aren't supposed to as per Union order).

So as I see it the issues are this. Either the teachers are worth their current salaries and benefits because their jobs entail more than 7 hours a day or they are underpaid because their contracted hours 1334 aren't the only ones they work.

One last note is that the WTC will affect elementary students the most because that is usually where most teachers do the little extra things for the students. As such parents with elementary kids usually are the ones who most support teachers and fee they are huge benefits on their childs lives. By affecting the group of students who already give you most of your support, what are you really trying to accomplish?

ChiefCrunchy said...

John Q Public I guess you are forgetting that Lower Southampton has a 1% tax on salaries also. I have looked at houses that are larger and have bigger properties(some over a 1/2 acre compare to my not even on 1/4 ace and square footage is a good 400 difference)than my own in the council rock district the biggest difference is the price it is selling at and their taxes are less and since I already pay a 1% in Southampton that would make Council Rock pay less. The biggest difference between Council Rock and Neshaminy is that there are NO APARTMENTS. They have townhouses and condos.
My spouse has been the biggest reason we have not sold our house.

KClarinet said...

When I read ACS's reply and Mr. O'Connor's response to him, I first thought they were both cheering Sad Poquessing Parent. :-)

Brevity can become obscurity. I'll try.

Str8 Shutr said...

I wish I could take the high road Sad Poquessing, but I can't. I am too frustrated with the teachers to even want to listen to them. I know that isn't a healthy attitude and it isn't right, but that's where I'm at. I will make a deal with you. On the day the teachers agree to pay at least 10 percent of their benefits, which I still think is too little, I will start taking the high road. At least then they'll have shown me they are willing to negotiate.

Sad Poquessing parent said...

Str8, I do not disagree that the teachers should pay a portion of their health benefits. This is 2010, most of us do. If I calculate correctly from Mr. O'Connor's $2100 per month cost that he stated earlier, 10% should not be unreasonable. 15% should not be unreasonable either! I wish I could pay $315 a month for my benefits! I make 1/2 or less than 1/2 of what most of the teachers make and I pay almost $400. It is not so much taking the high road that I am suggesting, it is just sitting down and having an honest, reasonable discussion between all parties to reach a conclusion that saves the great reputation of this district. If Louise Boyd really is the reason that this is not happening, then shame on her and shame on the union members for allowing her to puppet!

William O'Connor said...

Thanks, KC!

C said...

William what union in this country would tell it rank and file to accept a 4000.00+ pay cut(3780.00 =15% health care + 121.00 Tax increase to in district employees)your figures,and don't forget the employee rights that were removed from the contract no one has addressed these issues on the blog.This makes outsourcing look better all the time,but don't worry when the condition of the buildings and grounds are below your standards you can always go to the next lowest bidder OH THAT'S RIGHT THESE ARE THE LOWEST BIDDERS!
P.S. don't worry about the buses their gone.
Thank You to this blog and the NESPA people for the info I needed to form this opinion. When its all said and done only the children lose.

John Q. Public said...

-JS & CC
I realize the millage but taking your numbers (4560 and 3210) then add the 1% earned income on a 150,000 gross annual income then add 500 for combined occupation tax. NSD-4560 CR-5010. I'm just saying the taxes are pretty close save Lower Southampton.

momof4 said...

I know I'm raising my children to behave better than the teachers are acting. I can only hope that when a Senior from this year's graduation class enters the work force and has to pay their health care that they can come back and show their former "teacher" what it's like to live in the real world.

acs said...

I am starting to think most people are just as brainwashed about what teachers deserve as the teachers themselves. This has to stop now since what public workers have now and what they are asking for is no longer sustainable. We are at the crossroads of this. Either we choose to allow the overall taxburden to go well over 60% for Americans so we can have lots more happy government workers or we put a stake in the ground and say enough is enough at every level. William when I continue to read the posts on your blog like I have for 2 + years what strikes me is how little the public really understands about what is going on with the budgets and the district employees. The NFT is just in the wrong period end of discussion. NESPA is a victim or Mindy Anderson's greed and comlete incometence and that fact that the NFT sold them down the river.
Is there a way the board could send a mailer to evey taxpayer and parent explaining in very simple language and graphs what the problem is and why the NFT and NESPA just cannot get what they want this time?

Sad Poquessing parent said...

ACS I agree with you that many parents in this district have no idea about this. I do not pretend to understand all of it because honestly I didn't even know it was going on until just a few months ago. I am trying, though. I think making the public more informed so they can get more involved is an excellent idea!

Realistically speaking said...

I'm with Forthekids, do as Pres Reagan did and replace them all if they are not willing to be realistic. From what I understand there are many fully certified, qualified individuals on the sub list who want and need permanent positions.
Go to: www.nsdteachers.com
It's just not sustainable to continue to give out annual salary increases and not require a healthcare co-pay. It's just not possible or realistic in todays world and the teachers need to face that plain and simple fact. You can't get blood from a stone. I think the school board should take the offer off the table and present a new one: 20% cut in salary, 50% healthcare co-pay and no retirement bonus-that is part of their retirement package which needs to be looked at as well. This is the type of dilemna most of us are facing in the real world today. If you want to keep your job you have to make concessions or the company goes out of business. Get your heads out of the clouds people. Enough is Enough! End of the school year-what better time to make a BIG change,AND set an example for other districts facing the same dilemna: "You CAN be replaced".

SuzetteLiptrot said...

My son's teachers took down their web page info. All that remains on the site is "TEAM SPIRIT"... (some spirit). This is very hurtful to parents like me who rely on that site to get accurate homework information. I hope that this comes to an end soon. The kids should not be put in the middle of this battle.

LetsBePractical said...

I am so tired of all of this group bashing--Board bashing, Union bashing, etc.! One Board member commented on why he voted against the Gang Policy because "it has not teeth". When did the School District's responsiblities and expectations change? Why are the schools expected to be the police, judge, jury, and moral compass for our children? What is going on?!?!!? When are we, the taxpayers going to start to take responsibility for raising our children and allow the educators to educate? Yes, it would be much easier to join the bandwagon and Union bash or Board bash, but we need to take a look at our responsibility here, too.

I agree that the teachers and support staff should contribute towards their healthcare. BUT, when are we going to stop expecting our schools to do the things that we, as parents SHOULD be doing? It is OUR responsibility to instill the core values in our children about right and wrong--not the teachers, support staff,Board members or their policies. It is OUR responsiblity, as parents to help our "wide-eyed" children with their homework or extra help with projects.

I am so sick of hearing everyone bash the people that we entrust our children to for MORE hours per day than most people actually spend with their own children. I have been in that High School for various meetings, and I was horrified at how some of these students behaved and have spoken to these teachers, secretaries, and even Principals! I have also heard from numerous students and parents about how some of these children behave on the bus. Some of these children are putting the other children and pedestrians at risk EVERY day with their behaviors!!! These bus drivers deal with these behaviors on a daily basis, and do they get support from the parents? NO....they get to lose their jobs! I am shocked at the way the community has demonized good people who spend every day with our children, and for the most part, I believe, really care about the children.

People are so quick to point to the Unions as the reason that our budget is out of control. How about we take a look at NSD's Special Education numbers? How many of these students are truly Special Ed or are they manifesting signs of oppositional behavior or drug abuse? Why has it become the education system's responsibility to "fix" these students, when I am willing to bet that many of them stem from poor parenting or self-inflicted issues, such as drug abuse? Apparently, it does not matter.....as long as parents demand an IEP...they will get one and our costs will continue to rise. As a parent with a student who truly has a disability that was diagnosed at age 4, I am disgusted that a parent can threaten a lawsuit in order to get their child (who suddenly becomes special ed once they hit high school) placed in an ultra expensive private school at the District's expense!!!!

How about we take a look a how many students are STEALING an education from our District. Talk about saving money! I KNOW that there are many students who are getting dropped off at school or at bus stops that do NOT live in our District. I have heard other parents and students talk about a student or two that they know "really should be going to ______ School District". Again, I ask.....when are we going to take on some of the responsibility here, and call the District to report these students? I know I have already become vigilant about this, and will report any of these situations that I become aware of. I know this is not a popular stance, but we cannot afford to pay for these students to attend our schools unless their parent's choose to pay taxes or tuition.

Sorry for the long post Mr. O, but I needed to get this out. It is time that we all stop the finger pointing, and step up.

William O'Connor said...

LBP, you have every right to be frustrated with all the things you mentioned. Some of the biggest challenges to public education are failure of parents to act like parents, and the financial drain put upon the system by special education.

Perhaps if there is some movement in negotiations, the finger pointing and anger will slow down. But people are very upset with the economy and the perception they have that the NFT is negotiating without any concern for the tax payers. All we can do is keep trying.

We put an offer out to the NFT for a meeting a little over a week ago, and we are still awaiting a response. Hopefully soon we can get back to the table with, dare I say it, ALL ISSUES open for discussion.

KClarinet said...

All? Really? Or does that word still mean different things to different factions?

William O'Connor said...

Yes, I mean ALL but make no mistake that there must be significant restructuring of the costs of the agreement. Our labor costs are too high, and getting a concession in one area only to give it back in another doesn't help us.

Ivy League said...

William, I hope you aren't insinuating that eyes and I are one and the same. If you are just attempting to draw a comparison, well then I am honored!

Eyes is a cool cat!

I am not dodging your question; I am merely standing by my beliefs. NOBODY, you especially should be engaging in these discussions. From the beginning I said the negotiations should be between the two sides.

How can anyone irresponsibly throw numbers around without having all the necesary information? The NSD board tells us what they want us to know; forgive me my cyncism.

Larry Pastor, Business Executive, pontificates ad nauseum (forgive me for my redundancy) about the real world.

Would he make decisions at his work with cherry-picked, incomplete information? I would highly doubt it.

What I will say is what I have always said; I would be disappointed if the teachers truly expected what you claim they have "demanded".

I want the negotiators to decide.

I want both sides locked in a room willing to move forward.

I want this blog to stop lathering everyone up; it accomplishes nothing.

CF009 said...

I can not believe the comments from "Str8 Shutr" and just after "lets be practical. I would love to know what "Str8 Shutr" does for a living and how well behaved his/her children are at school. Just my guess based on the role model not very good.
Let's look at "lets be practical" had to say... the teachers are NOT the Villain. All they want to do is look out for their interest. That is OK and NORMAL. I have had the great benefit of many a good teacher and I know they were rarely recognized for their hard work. Give the teachers a break.

CF009 said...

Realistically speaking... be careful what you ask for. You may kill the Goose that lays the golden eggs. Why are you in this school district? Great schools...right? And great schools are because of great teachers, active parents. Cut out the teachers and replace with new and it will take YEARS to build back up. We need to be fair and kind in our comments.

Realistically speaking said...

@CF009 I wouldn't exactly call our teachers the "Golden Goose"! Just Google 2009 PSSA results:
Neshaminy Reading:79.6% Math: 81.8%
Central Bucks Read:90.3% Math:91.6%
CouncilRock Read:85.6% Math:86.0%
Pennsbury Read: 83.3% Math: 80.1%
I do not dispute that we have some great teachers-but they are not the ONLY teachers. My children have had some great, and some not so great. It is time to bring the work load up to their pay grade. I am a proponent of year round school. 3 months off is just too long, they loose too much by the time Sept rolls around. The schools down south do it, the idea is spreading because it makes sense! It is time for change. I speak only on fact. There is no money in the budget for raises-it has already been said that we can not afford to pay the offer on the table now. It is just not sustainable nor realistic. Times have changed and it is time for the NFT to face reality and come to the table with a fresh attitude, to be thankful that they have jobs (the unemployment rate keeps climbing), and grateful for the salaries they receive. We all have to at least contribute if not pay our own healthcare-I do! just about everyone I know does! This whole argument is just absurd. I am being fair, you may not think it is kind. I think it is SAD that they are using our kids for their own greed. They have had a great ride and do not want to see it go. I keep hearing that the teachers do not agree with the union, they are not happy with having to strip their walls and take down their websites. Then GET A SPINE! Speak up! Make your voice heard before this gets any worse!

acs said...

We need to strangle the goose to an inch of its life. The goose has tried to kill taxpayers and communities for decades. Teacher unions are businesses who only negotiate to win everything. When will NSD and Pennsbury and CR residents wake up to this union extortion?

NicAndy said...

The teachers have worked without a contract for 2 years, and nobody (including myself) seemed interested in all of the extra work they during that time. Well, let me correct that--I am sure that their families have felt the consequences of the extra hours that they have put in over the years. Unfortunately, their families are probably not feeling much relief, despite having more time with their loved ones as a result of the WTC, because they are witnessing their loved ones being raked over the coals by negative, unproductive banter about how selfish and greedy they are.

Second, I notice that the WTC document indicates that Guidance Counselors, School Psychologists, and Social Workers all work longer days and a longer school year than the Teachers are required to. Are they all on the same salary/step scale that we have heard so much about? If this is the case, it does not seem fair. Where is the solidarity in that?

I would be interested to hear from these groups to see if they feel that they are being equally supported by the NFT. I can only imagine that the folks in these groups will be left fielding the calls from concerned parents since the teachers are "not going to have the time" to return calls or emails. I also imagine that these folks are going to be flooded with requests for recommendation letters, since they apparently are the only group permitted to write recommendation letters.

Realistically speaking said...

You do realize you are talking about folks who earn $80K to $90K per year-right?? After hours work? It's called "part of the job" I never had a job that was 9a-5p, Most jobs require some time outside of business hours just to get things done, it's "part of the job" You know that going in. BTW heard today that there is an "unofficial" strike date of June 1st. Bring it on, get it over with! Give us a reason to replace you...

William O'Connor said...

RS, do we really want to display such bravado as to taunt the teachers into striking? I would never ask for anything that ultimately hurts the kids.