Friday, December 31, 2010

Reactions to NFT Press Release

An article in today's Bucks County Courier Times included comments from NFT President Louise Boyd. School Board President Ritchie Webb responded with the following statement, some of which was included in today's article:

The NFT, in its latest press release dated December 29, 2010, asks about the commitment of the Neshaminy School Board to the current collective bargaining process. The Board has been and remains completely clear about its commitment to bargaining. The Board is committed to negotiating a contract that the community can afford. It is committed to negotiating a contract that can be paid for by revenue that can be legally raised under the current law, Act 1. The Board intends to bargain a contract that does not hurt kids by being so financially unreasonable that it would require educational programs to be cut or eliminated. The current demands of the NFT do not meet any of these criteria.

The NFT’s public relations releases are now trying to argue that the NFT has made compromises during the years of bargaining with the School Board. That argument is completely false. The NFT made written demands in January, 2008 at the beginning of negotiations for new and expensive items that it wanted. Those items included salary, benefits, program changes, and the sharing of decision making power with the Board and Administration that were totally unreasonable in financial cost and concessions of power to the Union.

The “concessions” that have been referred to by the NFT are almost completely mere offers to take off the table some of the new demands they made in 2008. It is not a compromise to demand something new or more expensive, and then offer not to take that something you do not have.

The concessions that have never been offered by the NFT are well known to the public. Most obvious and well known are a contribution by each individual to the premium cost of health benefits. Every other Neshaminy employee, from the lowest paid to the highest paid, makes such a monthly contribution. Every other Bucks County School District employee, whether or not represented by a union, has for years made such contributions to health benefits. Such contributions have also been made by other public sector unions, as well as private sector employees.

In two days it will be January, 2011. We will soon have completed three (3) years of bargaining, and will, as we are required by law to do, start year four (4). If the NFT wants to demonstrate its own commitment to bargaining a contract, it must stop its posturing and pretense, and make some real concessions that reflect the reality of the times.

Ritchie Webb
Neshaminy School Board

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

NFT refuses to discuss health care

Tonight’s 27th meeting between the Board and NFT negotiation teams ended before it began as representatives from the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers refused to discuss the subject of health care, despite recent comments by NFT President Louise Boyd to the contrary. According to School Board President Ritchie Webb, the meeting started out with both parties in separate rooms as is always the case, and the Board directed the State-appointed mediator to ask the NFT to enter the meeting to discuss health care and retro pay. Neshaminy’s solicitor, Chuck Sweet, also asked the mediator to seek clarification from Ms. Boyd on her recent quote to the Philadelphia Inquirer in which she stated that the NFT would not make any concessions. The mediator left the room and met with the NFT team to propose the Board’s agenda. A few minutes later, the mediator returned and told the Board the NFT did not want to discuss any of those issues, and the mediator said that there was no reason to stay. No meeting was going to take place. Earlier this evening the NFT, through its PR firm, issued a statement that the Board cancelled tonight’s meeting. Mr. Webb insisted that is completely untrue. “We only proposed a couple of discussion items through the mediator, and we expected the NFT would comply given Ms. Boyd’s recent statements,” Webb said. “I am at a loss to explain why the NFT would say they were open to discussing health care, only to refuse to talk about it tonight, and then blame the meeting cancellation on the Board,” he said. No new talks have been scheduled. “The Board remains open to negotiations with the teachers,” Webb continued, “but at some point we have to discuss the issues that the NFT doesn’t seem to want to talk about.”

Friday, December 10, 2010

No agreements, but talks continue

School Board President Ritchie Webb issued the following statement concerning last night's contract negotiation session: "Negotiating session #26 took place last night and lasted about two hours. The main agenda item was the Board's proposal for self insurance, which the NFT did not yet agree to but said they will consider. They did not indicate when they will render a decision on the Board's proposal that will offer the district significant savings. The major issues have not changed. Health care plan options, employee contributions to health care premiums, retro pay, and salary increases were discussed but neither side made concessions. Both agreed to meet again on December 28, 2010, 6pm at Maple Point."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Board, NFT discuss self insurance

Negotiation teams from both the Board and NFT met for 3-1/2 hours this evening to discuss the Board's self insurance proposal which would maintain the teachers' prescription benefits while significantly reducing costs. Following presentations from two vendors, both sides had questions which required further research. Confident that the answers would be available next week, the Board and NFT agreed to meet again on Thursday, December 9th at 6pm.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Board, NFT sets next meeting date

The next negotiation meeting between representatives of the Board and NFT will take place on Thursday, December 2nd, at 6pm. One of the main topics of discussion will be the Board-proposed self insured Rx plan which will save the District an estimated $1.3 million annually.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The NFT Counter Proposal

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

Monday, September 6, 2010

NFT written proposal received

A written proposal from the NFT has been received. The Board will take time to review the proposal before sharing with the community.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Teachers encouraged to decorate, write LoR's

Earlier this week, Superintendent Lou Muenker sent a letter to all teachers welcoming them to the new school year and encouraging them to ignore the Work to Contract action as it applies to the decoration of classrooms and the writing of letters of recommendation.

The Neshaminy School Board has chosen to release this letter so that the public is aware the District is doing everything possible to ensure a productive school year for our students.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

NFT delivers verbal counter offer

At last night's negotiation session, the NFT delivered a verbal counter offer which included concessions in some areas but not to employee health care contributions. The Board will await the written proposal to review and analyze. Another negotiation session has been scheduled for September 23rd.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Update on August 18th Meeting

The negotiation teams from both the Board and NFT met this past Wednesday night for 2-1/2 hours with continued focus on questions surrounding health care costs. The NFT made a special request that information they obtain from our insurance carrier not be shared with the Board, which had been the practice up until now. Although the Board negotiation team found this request to be unusual since shared information is one of the desired outcomes of negotiations, it agreed to the NFT request in an effort to facilitate the process.

The Board negotiation team did ask if the Work to Contract (WTC) action would be discontinued since negotiations are ongoing, and the NFT negotiator replied that WTC would continue into the new school year.

The long-anticipated NFT counter proposal was not delivered as expected. The Board is hopeful that a counter proposal will be brought forth at the next negotiation session set up for this coming Wednesday, August 25th.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Negotiations Update

The Negotiating Team and the NFT met for for approximately three hours Thursday the 12th of August. The negotiations mainly centered around health care issues. The state mediator is assisting both parties in making progress.

A continuation meeting is scheduled for the 18th of August.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Update on July 21 Negotiation Meeting

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.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Talks Rescheduled

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

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's a done deal!

The Directors of the Neshaminy School Board are pleased to announce that the rank and file of the Support Staff union (NESPA) has accepted the contract offer which was announced earlier this week.

We thank the members of NESPA for their commitment to our students and the Neshaminy community.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Important update on NESPA negotiations

After many days and months of negotiations, the Neshaminy Board of School Directors and the leadership of NESPA have reached a TENTATIVE AGREEMENT.

The Neshaminy Board of School Directors will hold a public meeting this Wednesday, June 23rd, at 7pm in the BOARD ROOM at Maple Point to discuss, and vote to accept or reject the Tentative Agreement. All Neshaminy residents are encouraged to come to this meeting to learn more about the proposal and to offer their opinions during public comment.

Check back to this website on Wednesday morning for the details of the tentative agreement.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Update on latest negotiation session

School Board President Ritchie Webb released the following comments earlier today concerning last night's negotiation meeting with the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers (NFT):

"The board and NFT met last night [June 3, 2010] for approximately two hours. We had some positive dialog and managed to set another meeting June 30th. The Board provided the NFT with an update of our previous proposal with no changes. There was no counter proposal given to the board by NFT."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fact Finder's report

Below is the Fact Finder's report followed by an analysis of the financial savings it represents. As you can see, the net savings in the first year is less than $536,000, and the three year savings is slightly more than $3 million.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Board President Comments on Fact Finder Recommendation

Neshaminy School Board President Ritchie Webb today issued a statement on the recent recommendation filed by the Fact Finder concerning the negotiations with the Support Staff union (NESPA).

Webb said that the entire Board appreciated the efforts of the Fact Finder but has “no choice but to continue exploring other options or else face painful cuts to student programs.” He added that the Board is in the midst of closing a $5.6 million gap in next year’s budget and determined that the Fact Finder’s report would yield a savings of only $535,815 in 2010-2011.

“The three-year savings of the report would only net our district a savings of slightly more than $3 million,” Webb continued, “and we can do, and must do, far better than that.”

Webb indicated that negotiations with NESPA will continue but time is of the essence. “We have only a few weeks left before adopting a final budget,” Webb said, “and our hope is that the Support Staff will step up to the plate in helping the district do what is necessary to continue providing our students with second-to-none, affordable public education.”

The Neshaminy School Board will officially vote on the Fact Finder’s recommendation at the May 19th public meeting.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New bid tabulations received

Below are two (2) of the latest outsourcing bid tabulations received in response to District RFP's. The first is a bid for Grounds Keeping Services, and the second is for Food Services.

The most favorable bid for Grounds Keeping came from a vendor named Townscapes Inc, who offered Neshaminy a first year savings of $273,641. As the savings grows each year, the projected 5-year total savings if this support service is outsourced will exceed $1.5 million.

Unlike the other services being considered for outsourcing, Food Services is cost-neutral to the District since it is subsidized through the revenue it generates. However, the most attractive vendor for this service, Metz & Associates, has guaranteed Neshaminy $55,000 annual revenue which can be used to offset other operational costs within the District.

The Board will continue to negotiate in good faith with NESPA while it accumulates comparative data regarding relative costs of support staff functions.

RFP Tabulation - Grounds Keeping 01142010

Bid Tabulation Food Services 01192010

Friday, February 12, 2010

NESPA Talks Continue

*** UPDATED February 12th ***
Due to inclement weather, this week's meeting with NESPA and the State-appointed Fact Finder was cancelled. Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 25th.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Board President Addresses Concerns over Outsourcing

The following letter from Ritchie Webb appeared in the Courier Times:

Recently there have been a number of letters published in the Courier Times that have criticized the Neshaminy School Board for considering outsourcing of support staff functions, saying that we show no concern for our employees or our students. I want to assure the public that this is simply not true.

Our Board conducts business with two guiding principles in mind:
1) Provide our students with quality education that will prepare them for adult life
2) Provide that education with respect to our community’s ability to fund it

The excessive nature of Neshaminy’s labor costs has been well documented and I don’t need to restate the obvious. So let’s just skip to the bottom line – as of this moment we are faced with a $7 million deficit for the 2010/2011 school year, which is well in excess of the State-mandated Act 1 inflationary limit and is far more than what our tax payers can afford. This leaves us with two alternatives:
A. Reduce our operating expenses
B. Cut educational programs

The problem with option B is that it goes against the guiding principles previously noted. Our school district exists for the purpose of educating and nurturing and preparing our children. Depriving these young people of programs that educate them or enhance their learning experience is not an option this board is willing to consider. And so that leaves us with only one choice – reduce operating expenses.

It is the sincerest wish of the Neshaminy School Board that we resolve the impasses with our teachers and support staff employees soon, however we cannot – we must not – shirk our responsibilities to Neshaminy’s students. Time is running out, and soon we will be faced with very difficult decisions if we cannot restructure our labor agreements. It is not a situation that any school board wants to find itself in but it is one that this Board is committed to addressing.

I cannot predict what will happen in the next few months but I can promise you this – Whatever we as a Board decide to do, it will be done with the best interests of our students in mind. After all, they are the reason we are here.

If any Neshaminy resident has questions or comments regarding this matter, please contact me at

Ritchie Webb
President, Neshaminy School Board of Directors

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Meetings continue; Outsourcing update

1. NFT – The Board’s Negotiating Team met with representatives from the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers on Monday, January 11th. The newest members of the Board’s team were introduced as negotiations continued. Although both sides remain far apart over key issues, we did agree to another negotiation session in the near future (date tbd).

2. NESPA – The Board has requested for a state-appointed fact finder to review the facts surrounding negotiations with the District’s Support Worker’s union. Meetings with the fact finder will take place on February 11th and February 25th, and we anticipate they will render their findings in late March 2010.

3. Outsourcing – Below are two (2) bid tabulations. The first is an amended bid for Custodial Services which was expanded from three years to five years in response to public concern that cost savings of outsourcing would only last for the first three years. As the bid tabulation below shows, the 5-year savings is projected to be nearly $14.4 million.

The second bid tabulation is for Transportation Services. The most favorable bid came from FIRST STUDENT, which offers Neshaminy a potential savings of $16 million over five (5) years. FIRST STUDENT is a reputable company with excellent references and financial status. They have the largest market share (larger than the next 10 competitors combined) in the US and Canada for the Student Transportation marketplace. They operate over 60,000 buses daily transporting 4 million students in 1500 districts in 40 States and 8 Canadian provinces, including 70 PA School Districts. All drivers are required to take drug and alcohol tests, and also required to pass FBI fingerprinting test, PA State Police check for criminal record, and PA child abuse checks.

As part of the proposal, FIRST STUDENT would purchase Neshaminy's bus fleet and rent the district's garage and office space. Additionally, more than 90 percent of Neshaminy's existing staff would be retained at their same pay rate - about $21 an hour for bus drivers.

The Board will continue to negotiate in good faith with NESPA while it accumulates comparative data regarding relative costs of support staff functions.

Bid Tabulation All Custodial Services 5 Year 01142010

Bid Tabulation Transportation 01142010