Saturday, May 22, 2010

Union document has parents upset

Courtesy of the Courier Times . . .

The Neshaminy school board has released a teachers union document obtained from a faculty member that outlines a work-to-contract plan for Neshaminy High School. In this case, the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers is instructing teachers when to begin and end their day, to not volunteer for anything extra, to resign from certain committees, to take down bulletin boards, and to not write recommendations or attend events such as proms, according to the document.

The newspaper was unsuccessful in reaching union President Louise Boyd, who's the spokeswoman for the teachers, for comment.

Board President Ritchie Webb questioned how the educators' actions will affect children.
"The NFT mantra is that they always support children, yet, this document clearly hurts students in so many ways," he said. "Unfortunately, it is painfully obvious who they are supporting!"

Many parents said they've already started seeing teachers remove classroom decorations.
"This is totally ridiculous," said Sharon Rudnitsky, a Feasterville mother of three Neshaminy School District students. "What does this teach our kids? What are we supposed to tell our kids? I just don't understand why they'd do this."

You can read the entire article by clicking here.


silentmajority19053 said...

Well, here we go. Commence the hand wringing and the “Tsk Tsking” about how the teachers are showing how little they care for the children. That seems to be where the Neshaminy School Board begins and ends their approach to this impasse. After TWO YEARS of NO PROGRESS it seems to be impossible to continue to buy into the Board’s approach anymore. William, you and the Board are now complicit in this escalation. You have done nothing but sit on your hands and allow this situation to spiral out of control. Are the teachers the ones that have taken this to the next level? Yes. However, after two years of stagnation, did the Board not see this coming? If they did see this coming and did nothing but plan their PR response, shame on them. If they say they didn’t they are at best disingenuous, or maybe at worst, incompetent.

What is the plan William? Does the board have one that goes beyond repeated talking points, feigned concern and contrived indignation? Maybe we could all focus on how annoying Boyd is, maybe that will distract us all from the fact that there has been no movement for over two years. If that doesn’t work maybe pit the support staff and the NFT against each other. This has been soooo effective up till now.

Please tell me that when you and the Board discuss this development the focus will be on how to end this toxic impasse. It turns my stomach to think that the nine of you will be formulating a plan whose main objective is saying the right things in the press to demonize the teachers and protect your political standings.

No one is suggesting you cave in negotiations, but for the sake of every tax paying family with school age children, work to end this now William!

Face said...

Once again William I am a fan of yours and continue to believe that you are the only board member who has an eye on education and, as such, will have to be the one to midwife this mess. That being said, I am very concerned with the direction of things. As KC has said, all of this was very predictable. This school board has had more than 2 years to address the NFT's leadership in an effort to reach an accord. A state fact finder was brought in and his recommendations were dismissed. I read every word of that report, including the paragraph pertaining to health insurance. Why wasn't an independent analysis available for him so that he could render a decision on it? Instead, May 20th 2008 came and went and here we are. Nowhere.

Actually, let me correct myself; we are on the brink of... what was that phrase our former president coined? Oh yeah, our "darkest day." Only this is going to be one really long, ugly day. And what is the strategy of this school board? This very site that had 1,500 unique hits the other day has now taken to fomenting anger. You decry this tactic as our teachers prepare to use it and then... USE IT! You are better than that. I know you wear your heart on your sleeve and I also know that in the end, you are a school board member for all of the right reasons, over 8,000 of them. These are just a few of the reasons that I root for you. But I am imploring you, please do not step down into the irrational and emotional fray that will become the next few weeks. All of this was forseeable and now it is coming to pass. Fortunately for us, it will fall to you to get us out of this mess. I still have hope.

As I have said before, and I am in complete agreement with Ivy on this, I don't believe for a minute that the teachers expect everything they are asking for. If the public wants to get lathered up about 0% contributions then let them; they are being naive. We know it won't end that way. It's a free country and tax-payers (parents) are entitled to be upset about whatever they want but I voted for you and if you are going to keep providing us with this wonderful service I hope you will stay out of the drama. Afterall, you have Larry "acs" Pastor on here 24/7 providing people with enough financial doom to make us all reach for Xanax. And if you're looking for our dire straits expressed in algebraic confusion there is always a timely visit from JS (btw JS, does the "J" stand for Judas? Just wonderin')

Well, it's late (or is it early?) and I need to rest my stomach for an amazing Sunday breakfast with my family. William, I do hope you enjoy your time with your family as things will certainly heat up for you in the coming months. In the end this will get done by teachers, parents and the board. Soon, I hope. There are so many great people on this board. Our families deserve the best. We have the best in so many areas, so let's get this done.

Geez, KC, I think it is contagious...

Thanks William.

acs said...

SM 19053, I beg to differ. This board has done exactly the right thing over 2 years for students and taxpayers. Not the least of which was making a more than fair and generous offer to Boyd and NFT. She promptly said nope we wnat even more than we currently have so come back when you want to make a better offer.
I suggest you get more information and facts on the real situation before you attack William who is one of the best Directors we have.
The community and students should have zero interest in moving off the last board offer and giving teachers anything more. Let them do WTC and strike forever and let them go work in another district if they think this is unfair.

acs said...

Face, It must be difficult to eat breakfast with your heart bleeding all over the table.
William carry on. I know where your heart lies but more importantly I know where your brain is and it is squarely on the side of taxpayers and students that have been abused by Boyd and the NFT for far too long. There is no settlement or discussion required with the NFT until they come to their senses and not attempt to continue gouging that is robbing taxpayers. Public unions need to be abolished for the reasons we are now seeing with a WTC and potential strikes. Citizens do not wrk for public union workers THEY work for us. For too long they have tried to master all of us for their advantage. As long as we have people like Face and others more than willing to be brainwashed the more our public schools will deteriorate as NSD is due to the NFT.

JS said...

It's not algebra, it's simple math.

If teachers really want 0% contributions, then (as the Board has said) there is no money for other things (raises, retirement perks, etc.) So that is the simple math of it.

Even this, as we have slashed the budget $10 million last year, and are looking for $5 million this year. Since the partial list of cuts the Board agreed to look at will only save about $2 million, where should the money come from? There are 3 choices.

Cut Programs.

Raise Taxes.

Cut Salaries and Benefits.

The board (and most tax payers) feel that the third choice is the way to go, and I would like someone to prove to me how it would decrease the educational value in the district to have salary and benefits on par with CR, Pennsbury, CB. Yes they all pay a mere 10% in medical premiums, but they have lower salaries, longer steps, and have paid contributions for several years. If all those places are so much better than the offer currently on the table, feel free to go work in that district.

The teachers would have the tax payers pay more or cut programs just so they can continue being compensated better than every other district in the county.

enough acs said...

How many posts will acs be allowed to make? I have never posted to the blog - but am interested in both sides of the story. acs uses your post to bash teachers, period. Wouldn't it be better to allow others who are pro/con to give their opinions instead of constantly allowing acs to use this tool to bash the teaching profession?

William O'Connor said...

Dear Enough,

I don't limit how often people post here. No question there are a few regulars on the blog, but that shouldn't prevent you from adding your comments from time to time. Sometimes things get emotional, and I try to let free speech prevail as long as possible, but every once in a while I have to remind people about the civility rule here.

I do hope you'll come back and give it a try. Thanks for writing!

long in levittown said...

A question for acs - if the board does as you ask and the union does as you think they will - will the impasse help the taxpayers? Seems like a school was closed, positions eliminated, support staff on the cutting block, but you think the status quo is ok? I'd rather the two sides get together, negotiate, and compromise. If acs responds to this - it would be great if you did it without your usual teacher bashing - stick to the question.

JS said...

Long, I'm sure ACS will respond, but since I have way to much time on my hands I'll throw some numbers at you.

At a conservative estimate there will be about a $2.5 million dollar increase in teachers salaries if they took the Board's last offer (Average 3% in COL and steps). The reason it's so much is that there are about 370 teachers currently below step 10 on the salary scale. They have been stuck on the same step for 2 years. Once a contract is signed they would automatically jump up (and probably a good chunk would jump to the right with credits as well).

Assuming all teachers were a family of four they would pay about $3000 a year in medical premiums which would save about $2.1 million. (Now remember that this assumes essentially the maximum contribution)

So the offer the Board had on the table costs us more than what we are currently paying in this impasse.

Any compromise by the Board just simply makes that gap grow. If salaries were bumped 1 extra percent and teachers paid only 10% you would have closer to $3 million in salary increases and only $1.4 million in medical savings.

I will admit there are probably other savings (retirement perks and etc.), but you can see that there really isn't anywhere for the Board to go to save any money by settling.

Let's also not forget that the longer wages stay stagnant the lower Neshaminy's pension contributions will be when we get to the 29%-33% rates in the coming years.

acs said...

Now for the question which is a great one that William should sddress also later on.
"will the impasse help the taxpayers? Seems like a school was closed, positions eliminated, support staff on the cutting block, but you think the status quo is ok? I'd rather the two sides get together, negotiate, and compromise."

JS did a superb job of answering. He did the math as everyone needs to do. A few more simple points:
1. The board can only raise taxes 2.9% and has very limited ability to get small exceptions to this and for anything significant will need a public referendum- AND THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN
2. The last 2 years due to high labor cost after 10 years of an outrageously expensive NFT contract we ran a $14M and $7.6M deficits.
3. The board made an overly generous offer of 3% raises and 15,16,17% HC contribution(prior to the financial meltdown in 2008-9). This saves the District only $3.5-4M per year. This contract is not affordable SEE JS. Inflation is at a 40year low so ACT 1 will be likely 2% or lower next budget.
4. So how does a compromise help us since anything the NFT gets above the board offer is completely unsustainable with deficits and tax increases?
5. NFT teachers are already arguably the Highest compensated teacher in PA.
6. If we stay where we are with no contract we will see deficits but outsourcing some services-busing which the district should have done years ago will save money. Also teachers are not getting steps and raises do salary and pension formula cost are low for years without a contract. This will help save us money in out years.
7. Remember the Fact Finder just wrote, "NSD is in financial distress". It will not improve with a so-called compromise with the NFT it will just get worse.
8. Go read the budget and you will understand clearly that the district just does not have the money nor does it have the ability to get it from either income or taxes. The public worker gravy train is derailing all over America and NSD is in one of the first cars to go it appears! Sorry to burst the idealistic bubble some people have of teachers...some are certainly outstanding and make a huge difference in our lives. Others just slide by since the mediocre and bad get tenure and are never removed. Then they join a union and spesk with one voice and that is unfortuantely in NSD now the voice of greed and self interest. How much more money and benefits can a public work extort from madness here.They appear to not care if their sister union gets outsourced or their peer teachers get laid off when programs are will only be young teachers anyway....
Sorry William I did it again but this is my last long post.
Thanks to JS for shortening my math excercise.

PS. PSERS refunding tax increases start hitting next year and as JS points out NSD taxpayers will be hit with increases to 30% of your CURRENT yearly bill over next few years if nothing is doen. With that looming, again we do not need a new teacher's contract at all. We should all be fine with them working another 5 years without one. JS's math, my math, Paradise's math and anyone else willing to look at it will prove that no matter how you add it up or no matter how many times Louise Boyd "stumbles" to the podium and fiddles with budget pages and "rants belligerently" at the board and community, NSD taxpayers and students are much better off without the board's offer contract let alone a "compromise" version.

acs said...

Long, I never teacher bash. I do not have to since the financial facts are on my side. I just call the facts out and tell it like is and then people who defend teacher as saints that can do no wrong call it is bashing to try and shut me and others up. Kind of like calling people racists that disagree with Obama to shut them up same thing. This is just the reality of greedy unions not much more. Teacher unions are so-called professional unions that act like union thugs overreaching and destroying many school district across the country and certainly here in NSD. The NFT greed will now cause outsourcing NESPA workers and program cuts either this year or next. I try to offer the counter balance to those that seem to think we should compromise with this militant union that has NO interest in the kids or the community see WTC :). Remember only 30% of NSD teachers live in our district. This is why some don't like my posting as often here. People need to reshape their thinking on public worker unions especially teacher unions. Preying on people's natural pro teacher mentality has allowed the union to literally gouge communities like ours for many years beyond where teacher's pay got to par pay with the private sector-they are now significantly better than the privates worker compensation. Remember there is zero correlation between improved student perf and teacher pay. In fact NSD has among the higher per student cost due to labor cost and we are middle of the road in performance. Try to not let your appreciation of teacher get in the way of clear business thinking. The union looks at it purely as a winner take all negotiation and have had it that way in NSD forever.

Ysmith said...

Noticed that teachers have begun to remove their information from the website. Is this a service that we pay for? If they aren't going to use it, can we delete it from our budget? If the teachers are not using the website or contacting parents, please explain why they need computers in the classroom? Who pays for the internet connect? Another thing we can shave off the budget!

Ysmith said...

sorry I forgot to add this to my last comment (an afterthought you might say). What is going to happen next school year with the school supply list? Are the teachers going to hand this out? or should parents just give the basic PENCIL & PAPER & hope for the best? I'm sorry that things have come to this point, being a teacher use to be a respectable position in society now people I speak with who are teachers are EMBARASSED to say their occupation. It's like saying your a police officer during the Rodney King era.


Today at my child's middle school:

The walls were completely bare. When students asked the teachers about why this was the response was they could not discuss it.

The websites were cleared of information and kids were told to write assignments down in their notebooks.

Teachers left promptly at dismissal

The kids heard a rumor that the teachers my strike on June 1st.

CF009 said...

I have read all the post here as well as others, listen to yourselves. I TRY and treat others as I would like to be treated.
How many of us would like to take a pay decrease without an argument? How many of us would like to work for a ungrateful, disparaging bosses (parents). How many of us would spend our own personal money to teach these "bosses" kids extra? Peter said ...."Go on strike guys and gals and lose the very little respect for you that is remaining. (Disparaging?)
Why do we hate teachers so much? Why as Peter states you have little respect for them. I have to ask if your boss comes in tomorrow and says we are taking a $4000 pay cut tomorrow will you be happy? Be careful folks for what you ask for... These teachers and in particular the good ones will only take so much. If YOU care about YOUR kids I would be careful not to show so much disrespect for their teachers in front of your kids. We reap what we sow! They will in turn disrespect others...and maybe even us!

JS said...

Mr. O I came across an interesting item in the NFT's little "blue" book a retired teacher gave me.

Section 10-41 states as such:

The Federation shall encourage all staff members to provide service beyond the regular school day to participate in programs designed to improve teaching skills, as well as help and counsel childern.

Don't Recommendation Letters help children?

Don't Bulletin Boards help (and sometimes counsel) children?

The NFT is actually DISCOURAGING providing service beyond the regular school day. Would this not be a violation of the contract? It specifically states that they should be "encouraging".

I'm sure if the NFT wants to null the expired contract, the Board would gladly agree. NO more free benefits, no more anything. Since they won't do that, their Federation is currently in violation of the expired contract.

sjoy said...

I have never been an ungrateful, disparaging "boss", please do not lump all parents in that category. I have respected and helped all of my child's teachers and have never ever been disrespectful to any of them and continue not to be.
In fact, I volunteered my time last school year and Cleaned Up after the Teacher Appreciation luncheon last year because I actually had time because I was laid off after 15 years with my company. (At which time my husband was laid off because the manufacuring company he worked for had a decrease in purchase orders.) I was not the only one, 400 other employees in my company were laid off because the company that had been in business for over 50 years was going bankrupt. Yes, we were both unemployed last year from no fault of our own. The Economy. Unemployment payments that were well below what we worked so hard to bring home, Cobra payments that were astronomical.

A $4,000 a year pay cut? Did I have a chance to argue my job being lost? No, I did not even have the opportunity for my boss to ask me to take a $4,000 pay cut. To keep my job, I would have said yes to my boss, but I work in the private sector, not a union that has the chance to say no and keep their job. I am now working at a job that the salary is astronomically more than a $4,000 a year pay cut... because jobs are few and hard to obtain and just want to be employed. And yes, I'm paying for health insurance. Private sector jobs are few an far between because there are thousands applying for the same job.
This is what our community members are experiencing.
Best wishes to all...and keep in mind that I have treated all teachers (and will continue to) the way I would like to be treated. Also, we do not speak disrepectfully about the teachers (or anything about this issue) to our child as it would not help any of us in any way.
Be well, Neshaminy.