Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Many residents who attended Tuesday's Neshaminy School Board meeting used the opportunity to support the board in its rejection of the teachers union's latest contract proposal, with some asking that an even harder stance to be taken.
"I just want to thank the board for its complete rejection on behalf of the students and the taxpayers," said Larry Pastor of Middletown. He added that he wants the board to not only rescind its latest counteroffer, but to dissolve the entire collective bargaining agreement and write a new one from scratch.
"Thank you for standing firm regarding their most recent offer," parent Lisa Pflaumer said. "We are all making sacrifices during these tough economic times - well almost all of us. As a private business owner, if I ran my business how the union leadership is instructing its members to work to contract, I would lose my customers."
Teachers following this action did not attend back-to-school nights at the district's middle schools and elementary schools and parents expressed concern that letters of recommendation would not be written for high school students.
Superintendent Louis Muenker said that any Neshaminy High School students having any problems getting letters of recommendation should contact the principal.
You can read the article in its entirety by clicking here.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
"First of all, they wanted retroactive pay," he said. "Our figures indicate that if we agreed to that, for the past three years, with salary increases, it would cost the district $11.7 million out of the current year's budget. That is just not doable. Even if we wanted to do it, we couldn't do it."
In a statement e-mailed to the newspaper Friday, NFT president Louise Boyd said the board is not negotiating in good faith.
"Last night the Neshaminy School Board rejected, out of hand, the most recent proposal presented by the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers. The board refused to discuss specifics," the statement read. "The board proposed to amend its existing 34 pages of changes with the addition of a 35th page of demands. This means that the board is actually going in reverse in the negotiating process. This is not good-faith bargaining and the board knows it. The public should know it, too..."
A $27,500 retirement bonus found in the teachers' previous contract is eliminated in the board's offer.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
On the plus side, the organizers did everything possible to keep this event the “peaceful protest” that it was billed as. They alerted both district officials and local police of their intentions, and they kept their protest off the main grounds of Maple Point (for the most part). In general, signs were on message and respectful, and there was no loud yelling or jeers from the crowd. This group clearly made their voices heard.
The negatives . . . a small group of the parents did carry their protest right into the main parking lot although the organizers were advised to keep their rally limited to the outer fringes of the property. I don’t know if these few parents didn’t get the message, or perhaps were coaxed onto school grounds by the Fox 29 reporter, who I am told was “disappointed” that the event didn’t take place right outside the main office.
Also of concern to me was the presence of a few younger children at the rally. While I understand that it’s important to teach children the importance of standing up for what you believe in, this is a complex, emotional issue that is very confusing to pre-adolescents. Parents should explain the situation to their child carefully, and the message they give should be much different for a high school student than it is for an elementary schooler. Let’s not have a repeat of last year’s anarchical event undertaken by our Maple Point kids.
Here is the Courier Times recap of yesterday’s rally.
I’m sure you know by now, the Board has officially rejected the NFT’s recent contract offer. As you might expect, the Courier Times editorial board has followed up with another scathing opinion, this one encouraging teachers to “put a leash on the extremists who are leading you astray,” which is a direct reference to NFT leadership.
Also in the Courier is a letter from a local resident who chastizes the editorial board by saying they "unfairly characterize the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers ("NFT") as being "unreasonable amateurs" in their conduct during negotiations with the Neshaminy school board. Nothing could be less accurate."
After 2+ years of talks both sides are still very far apart, and public concerns of a teachers strike grow every day. The good news is that so far the NFT hasn’t even hinted at a possible strike, so while we should be prepared for the worst, we do not necessarily have to expect it. Of course that could change at any moment, but for now we must continue to remain calm and focused.
Just below is last night’s Fox 29 News report from the District offices. And just in case you thought Fox was the only local news station covering Neshaminy, here is a link to a report filed by KYW 1060 News Radio.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
* Kudos to these parents for getting involved and for exercising their right to free speech.
Monday, September 20, 2010
At that point, Lutz said, the teacher's color began to return and she detected a faint pulse.
"He began to breathe shallowly and I turned him on his side," she added.
Friday, September 17, 2010
This new 1.4% index equates to approximately $1.6 million in total. Just for comparison purposes, our health insurance and/or special education costs usually increase more than this amount, without considering any other parts of the budget.
As if a fiscally responsible budget wasn't already a challenge, our job just got a lot tougher!
It should come as no surprise that the wave of public opinion continues to be critical of the path chosen by our teachers. A Thumbs Down editorial from this morning's Courier says:
To Neshaminy School District teachers, for … well, it's a long list. But let's limit it to teachers bailing out on back-to-school nights.
The disruptive action is part of the union's "work-to-contract" order, which means teachers aren't supposed to do much of anything outside the school day. This is the union's way of putting pressure on the school board to give teachers a contract taxpayers can't afford.
Shamefully, the greatest impact of what amounts to a work slowdown is on students.
There is also an article about last night's BTS events that contains parent comments such as:
Amanda Barner, parent of an eighth-grader, said it seems that the teachers "don't care enough to come out for the children."
"Everybody needs an income, but the biggest reason you become a teacher is because you should want to help and inspire children," Barner said. "This teaches them nothing except to do nothing more than they're ever asked to do."
If you didn't happen to tune into Fox 29 news last night, further down below is the report they filed about BTS night.
I was very pleased by the parent turnout last night. One woman who stopped by to say hello told me that she considered this a showing of parent solidarity. And there were plenty of other attendees from last night who shared similar feelings. Clearly the parents in our District are tired and fed up, but they are also unwavering in their support of the Board's position.
What was also apparent from comments overheard last night was that parents appreciated the efforts of the District's superintendent, administration and principals during this difficult time. So despite this group being maligned earlier in the week by the NFT Veep, Neshaminy officials continue to receive backing from the public.
A heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in last night's BTS events!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The union's stubborn and insensitive insistence on free health insurance is a slap in the face of every taxpayer in the Neshaminy School District. So is the union's salary demand, which is retroactive to 2008.
Incredible! And incredibly selfish.
The school board is holding a work session this evening but will welcome public comment on the nion's counter-proposal. Taxpayers should get in line early. .
No mention of health care premiums can be found in the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers' contract counteroffer, which was released by the school board Monday.
If the board were to accept the union's offer, the average salary of a teacher in the Neshaminy School District, including steps, would come to $101,391 at the end of the five-year contract term in 2012, board President Ritchie Webb said Monday. The contract would be retroactive to July 1, 2008, and would end June 30, 2013.
That sum is without factoring in health benefits, perks or pay for extracurricular duties, he added. Webb said the top salary would be about $111,200, before benefits and pay for extracurricular work.
In the union's five-year contract counteroffer, teachers would get a 2.75 percent increase in base wage for the first two years, a 3 percent increase in the third and fourth years and a 3.5 percent increase in the fifth and final year. The same percentages would be applied to step increases, based on service time and education level.
O'Connor said that a "me-too clause" included in the contracts for the district's support staff and its administration stipulates members of those unions cannot receive health insurance benefits that are inferior to any other group, including teachers.
"If we accepted this, we would in turn have to give that same benefit package to every other employee in the district," he said.
Click here to read the entire article.
Also in today's paper was a letter to the editor from a Neshaminy resident who said "Shame on the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers!" You can read her opinion by following this link.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Although a thorough financial analysis of the NFT counter proposal has not yet been completed, the Neshaminy School Board has chosen to disclose the offer at this time (see below). The Board believes it is important that the information be shared ahead of Tuesday's Public Work Session so that residents may comment on it.
The Board will continue to withhold formal comment on the NFT counter proposal until its analysis has been completed.
Nft Proposal 082510
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Though the situation ended safely and the child was reunited with his parents, according to his father, approximately 30 minutes elapsed during which he was left unattended on the streets of Langhorne before he was found by a bus driver and brought back to his home.
Tim Russell, an instrumental music teacher employed by the Neshaminy School District, said the situation involving his son was a result of "gross negligence" by the district.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
Although Computer Lab is on the schedule for all elementary schools at all grade levels, O'Connor said that isn't enough.