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.

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