Monday, June 27, 2011

June 28th Board meeting cancelled

Tomorrow night's Board meeting to hear the charter school application is cancelled. No further details are available at this time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Teachers rally as board passes budget

Here is the Courier Times' recap of Tuesday nights rather eventful, volatile meeting . . .

For the second year in a row, the Neshaminy school board was able to pass a budget without extra help from taxpayers.

The board voted 8-1 to approve the final 2011-12 budget, with no tax increase, in front of a packed auditorium, including a vocal crowd of hundreds of teachers.

The $161,288,736 spending plan did, however, include several controversial cuts to educational programs including 10th-grade physical education and eighth-grade foreign language classes as well as staff reductions.

Board President Ritchie Webb said that about $2.8 million was taken from the district’s reserve fund to balance the budget with no additional burden to taxpayers.

This marks only the fifth time since 1994 that the district passed a budget without raising taxes.
Board member William O’Connor voted against the budget as he had previously promised to not approve any budget that did not include an updated computer program for district elementary schools. He added that he supports the budget otherwise.

Intramural activities and high school clubs, which had been on the chopping block, were preserved in the final budget.

Officials said they are still unsure how much the district will receive from state funding, which made the six-month budget develop process difficult.

Hundreds of teachers wearing navy blue NFT shirts lined up outside the two entrances of Maple Point Middle School before the meeting to bring attention to their cause.

Many held signs with a variety of messages like “Negotiate Now!” and “Neshaminy deserves better!”

Union official Jeff Dunkley said the display was meant to reinforce the message that the NFT leadership is not a separate group from the general membership.

“We are teachers speaking on behalf of teachers,” he added.

Webb said before the meeting that a potential strike or returning to working to contract were always options for the union but added that he didn’t think they would help resolve the impasse.

The teachers then packed the front sections of the auditorium and continued to hold up signs. Usually the NFT members who attend the public meetings relegate themselves to the back of the room.

As board members entered and approached the stage, the teachers chanted “negotiate!” in unison.

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teachers grant strike vote authority


Whether the rank and file has intentions of striking if they don't get what they want from negotiations remains to be seen, but clearly this is a shot across the bow of the Board and public. According to a statement by Louise Boyd, "The certified staff spoke loud and clear this evening that they are fed up with the district’s failure to negotiate in good faith.”

On the NFT Facebook page one teacher said, "When sisters and brothers stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us?"

No doubt the teachers believe this will further their cause. I'm not here to say bring it on because this is a very serious matter and it should be treated accordingly, but I do question their wisdom in granting such dictatorial powers to a leadership that has so badly misread and mismanaged the situation since the very beginning.

I see this as another instance in a long line of regrettable decisions by the NFT.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Courier Eds off base on thumbs down

The Courier Times Editorial staff gave the Neshaminy School Board a thumbs down in today's paper by saying . . .

To the Neshaminy school board for canceling Thursday’s negotiating session with the teachers union.

Negotiators met Monday for the first time since February. At that meeting, the union formally presented its latest proposal. Regardless of whether board members believe the proposal is still too costly, which they do, there would have been no harm in continuing to talk. Instead, members want time to meet with their newly formed citizens advisory committee before meeting again. They tentatively agreed to meet the third week of July.

We don’t doubt that the union’s latest offer won’t yield the kind of savings the board wants and taxpayers need. But the union did compromise on a key demand — continued free health benefits. Granted, what they said they’d contribute isn’t nearly enough. But it’s a starting point.
That said, commendations to the board for getting citizens involved in the process, and, prior to that, for keeping the public fully informed.

Most of what the Courier said this morning was actually complimentary of the Board, but they were mistaken in placing sole responsibility for cancellation of Thursday's meeting on us.

During Monday's negotiation session, the NFT made it very clear that they felt the Board was wasting their time by not presenting a counter proposal, and that there was no reason to meet Thursday if the Board could not provide an offer. The mediator agreed, and so did the Board since we are committed to meeting with our Citizens Committee before drafting a counter. That is why our Monday evening press release stated that both parties mutually agreed to cancel Thursday's session.

We appreciate the coverage and fair reporting given by the Courier Times throughout this impasse, but they should issue a retraction on today's thumbs down.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Board rejects latest NFT proposal as "too expensive"

The following statement was posted to the Board's Negotiation Website a few moments ago . . .

Meeting #30 between the Board's Negotiation Team and representatives from the NFT lasted about 30 minutes this evening.

The Board formally rejected the NFT proposal of May 31, 2011, stating the proposal was too expensive. The Board asked for additional time to prepare a counter proposal with the assistance of the newly formed Neshaminy Citizens Contract Advisory Committee. It was mutually agreed by the NFT and the Board to cancel this Thursday's (June 16th) meeting and reschedule for either the 18th or 19th of July depending on availability of the Board's council.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Board members weigh in on NFT proposal

From an article appearing in . . .

Tuesday evening, the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers unveiled a new contract proposal to the public and members of the press.

Though the Neshaminy School Board members didn't get the contract proposal until this morning from the board's solicitor, they have been able to review changes made by the NFT in this proposal.

Board member William O'Connor said Wednesday that he is gratified that "for the first time in three years" the NFT has agreed to contribute toward health care.

School board President Ritchie Webb said that the NFT contract proposal agrees to pay a flat rate toward health care. NFT President Louis Boyd said Tuesday that the contribution is estimated at about 8 percent toward the current health care plan, but with a flat rate contribution Webb said that if the cost of the plan goes up the teachers will still be paying the same rate.

In addition, O'Connor said he is still concerned about retroactive pay.

Boyd said Tuesday that the NFT would like to have a contract by the end of the school year. O'Connor said he thinks that is "highly unlikely" because the board has already committed to having a resident advisory panel, meeting with the union on June 13 and there are "a great many issues that going to have to be worked on."

"I think it would be difficult, but I’m certainly willing to work toward that goal," Webb said of the NFT having a contract by the end of the school year.

You can read the entire article by clicking here.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

NFT announces new offer

Following an 8:30pm press conference last night, the NFT forwarded a copy of their new counter proposal to our attorney (see below). The Board is currently reviewing this document, and we will issue official comment after we have had a chance to assess the cost implications and educational impact this latest offer.

Nft Proposal 05312011