Saturday, March 5, 2011

NFT wants district to tap into savings

Proving once again they lack any sense of business acumen, the NFT has issued a press release doubting the gravity of our financial situation. In a nutshell they are challenging the district to deplete its reserves in order to meet their demands, yet they believe there is still sufficient room for us to meet our long range goals for education and facilities improvement.

After setting aside $2 million for the pending teacher's pension crisis, the district finally built its fund balance (savings account) above the minimally recommended 5% of expenses, or roughly about $8 million. Currently sitting at $11+ million, our savings account should be up for grabs according to the NFT, and yet we can still have enough for everything else. Talk about your new math!

We don't want to reduce our fund balance below the $8 million mark, so for argument's sake let's say that leaves us with $3+ million of fund balance money to play with. How are we to pay for $40 million in building repairs, continue to set aside money for the looming pension crisis AND also give the NFT the $11+ million in retro pay they demand? That's a long stretch for $3 million, isn't it?

And let's not forget that the NFT still insists on its contribution-free, Rolls Royce health care plan, $30k retirement perk, free benefits for retired teachers, shorter work day, etc.

What NFT leadership fails to comprehend is there is a difference between your savings account and your annual operating expenses. It is true we finally have regained strength in our fund balance, but the last thing we want to do is spend that money because we are living beyond our means. In the business world, you reduce expenses so you do not deplete reserves. Instead of dealing with the reality of an unaffordable contract, the NFT wants to treat our savings as if this was Wheel of Fortune.

Our fund balance was rebuilt through a number of cost savings measures such as closing buildings, laying off staff, reducing bus stops and eliminating the midday Kindergarten bus run, and restructuring our labor agreements with NESPA and Administration. But our annual operating expenses remain high largely due to the high cost of our labor. If that issue isn't dealt with effectively, Neshaminy residents will continue to be threatened with deficits year after year. And that leaves us with two choices: Reduce expenses, or cut student programs while raising taxes.

The math doesn't seem to concern the NFT. All they know is there is money in savings and they feel entitled to some of it, as if a few million dollars is all that separates the two sides. Our financial difficulties go way deeper than that. If we don't fix it, and fix it soon, our students will be the ones to suffer.

On a last note to NFT PR guru Bob Schiers, who attempted to use my own words against me . . . sorry Bob, but you didn't even come close to proving anything other than your own lack of understanding. Any time you and the NFT leaders want to come out and do this in the light of day, in full view of the public, my fellow board members and I will be more than happy to debate the facts with you. Until then, enjoy the safety of the darkness.

1 comment:

Paul Schneider said...

Good Peggy Noonan piece from today's Wall Street Journal