Thursday, July 29, 2010

The early late bus

Much to my surprise, and apparently to many of you parents out there, I recently learned of a decision to change the late bus schedule. In case you didn't see it, here is the announcement that was posted to the District's website . . .

Please note that there has been a change in the after school bus run in the Neshaminy School District for the 2010-2011 school year. There will no longer be a 5:00 p.m. bus run. The after school bus run will now be at 4:15 p.m. Students who are participating in activities past 4:15 p.m. will need to arrange for their own transportation home.

I'm not too sure I like the idea since students staying later than 4:15pm are faced with the challenge of finding a ride home or not participating in their after school event.

What do you think?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The (Courier) Times are changing

The Courier Times announced today a change in assignments of their school district and municipal beat reporters.

Neshaminy will be losing Rachel Canelli, who has been reporting on our district since 2005. I thank Rachel for her years of dispassionate, objective reporting, and wish her well in her new assignments. Thank you, Rachel! If you have a few moments, please email Rachel a note of thanks to

Our new beat reporter is Christian Menno. I assume Christian will be attending our next meeting on August 24th. Please take time to welcome Christian to our community by emailing him at


Friday, July 23, 2010

Courier Times: District offers teachers cost-savings option

From today's newspaper . . .

During talks Wednesday night, the Neshaminy school board offered the teachers union a $1.3 million cost-savings option that would not impact employees by self-insuring the district's prescription plans, officials said Thursday.

Neshaminy's insurance broker estimates that would reduce the district's costs by $1.3 million next year, with similar savings the following years, school board members said.

The district needs the consent of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers to put the option into effect. The board noted there was little reaction or comment from the teachers union in regards to employees contributing towards health care premiums at the session.

The federation offered no counter proposals, but another negotiation session has been scheduled for Aug. 12, according to a statement the school board posted on the district's website.

The newspaper was unsuccessful in reaching teacher union President Louise Boyd for comment Thursday.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Contract update: Board proposes cost savings to Rx

The following update was just posted to the Board's Negotiation Website . . .

The Board’s Negotiating Committee and the NFT met last night for approximately two hours. Most, if not all, of the conversation centered on health care costs. The Board presented a cost savings proposal of self insuring our prescription plans, which our broker estimates will reduce our current costs $1.3 million next year, with similar savings in subsequent years. This would be an immediate savings with no impact on our employees. The Board cannot change this plan without NFT consent as any change would violate status quo.

The Negotiation Team did bring up the topic of employee contributions towards health care premiums, but there was little reaction or comment from the NFT in this regard.

The NFT offered no counter proposals last night.

Another negotiation meeting has been set for August 12th.

The positive news about this report is that the Board has identified potential savings to health care costs which won't have any negative impact on our employees.

On the not-so-positive side is the continued luke-warm reaction by the NFT towards employee health care contributions. I'm also baffled that the NFT had no counter offer last night. Considering that they cancelled the last meeting so that they had "more time to prepare", just what exactly did they need more time to prepare for?

Hopefully the August 12th session will bring more progress.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Will a voice rise above?

That's the question posed in a guest opinion appearing in today's Courier Times. Author Larry Pastor writes:

With all the recent developments in Neshaminy School District, you likely missed the restart and halt of the teachers' contract negotiations. After publicly demanding the board resume negotiations during a raucous performance at the May 19 meeting, Louise Boyd, the teachers union president, abruptly canceled a June 30 meeting. After two full years of non-negotiations, her excuse was they needed more time.

. . . Thanks to sound fiscal management by the board, taxpayers can live without a teachers contract for awhile. We also owe thanks to the support staff, especially courageous bus drivers like Chuck Torpey, who with great eloquence publicly expressed the need for all district employees to give back.

There has to be a Chuck Torpey among teachers, ready to stand up to a misguided union and do the right thing. It can't be easy watching neighbors struggle financially while their union pursues excess in an aggressive self-interested quest for an unjustified and unaffordable contract. It takes one brave voice to lead the way.

You can read the guest opinion in its entirety by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back to the table

The following statement was posted on the Board's Negotiation Website . . .

The June 30th negotiation session with the NFT has been rescheduled for Wednesday, July 21st.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Courier Times editorial

Here are a few excerpts from today's Courier Times editorial, Teacher contract negotiations - Put taxpayers first . . .

. . . Of more immediate impact on residents of six Bucks County school districts is the fact that labor agreements with teachers expired this week . . . Actually, Neshaminy has been without a new contract for the past two years; Pennsbury has been without a new deal since June 30 of last year. Both have been working under the terms of their old agreements. But don't feel sorry for them. Those old deals are pretty darn good, especially Neshaminy's, where teachers get free health benefits - totally free.

And while teachers are putting on the pressure for new agreements, they have nothing to worry about - not if history is any guide. Their unions will take care of them. By contrast, taxpayers should be worried, because school boards have been notorious for selling out residents by agreeing to contracts borne of the fantasy that teachers are somehow immune to the economic realities that affect the rest of us.

. . . we were encouraged this week when Neshaminy passed a no-tax-hike budget despite the need for a new deal with teachers. Neshaminy school board members insist that a new contract will have to be struck within the parameters of the new budget. Likewise, Pennsbury officials say a new teachers contract will have to come in under their budget.

Hopefully, those promises won't fade as they did in the North Penn School District, which for a time put up a strong front against its teachers union during contract negotiations, even prompting a brief teachers strike. In the end, however, the district gave the teachers what we believe was an overly generous contract for these economic times. Our concern is that North Penn may have set the table for negotiations in the other districts.

This editorial speaks to a fear that many in our community share - despite standing strong in negotiations with the Support Staff (NESPA), the Board will cave in and give the NFT another incredibly generous, expensive contract. Quite frankly, I don't see how that is possible.

First thing to consider is the equity, or "me too", clause that exists in our other labor contracts. This guarantees the other labor units will have insurance benefits comparable to what the teachers have in their new agreement. If we were to drastically reduce our offer to the NFT, say a 5% contribution for a Rolls Royce plan, we would have to amend the coverage for all the other labor groups. That would hurl our budget dangerously into the red, and it would leave us no choice but to drastically cut student programs. That is not an option as far as I'm concerned.

If contractual obligations weren't enough to keep the Board focused, we also have received a loud, clear message from the community at large. Overwhelmingly the public is demanding that the NFT make significant concessions in these negotiations, and they've insisted that the Board not back down. And this isn't just the opinion of frustrated tax payers. This time even parents with school-aged children are demanding major changes in the teachers' next contract.

The important thing now is that the Board and NFT remain focused on moving forward with negotiations. It's been a difficult and emotional year for all involved, and the process hasn't always brought out the best in us (public included). But that isn't a good reason to give up hope or to stop trying. And so, we must keep working at it. I'm sure all of us agree that doing nothing isn't an acceptable alternative.

Hopefully we will hear soon from the NFT on a reschedule date for our next meeting. And with any luck, that meeting will lead to another, and then another.

One last thought . . . with all due respect to the Courier Times editorial board, we must always put our students first. Always.