Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Board Formally Withdraws Contract Offer to NFT

Neshaminy School Board President, Ritchie Webb, announced today that the three year contract proposal to the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers (NFT), first offered in 2008, was being withdrawn. Webb stated that this action leaves the Board free to make a new proposal effective July 1, 2011 and thereafter.

Teams representing the Board and NFT have met 29 times since January 2008, with the most recent meeting being February 15, 2011. No progress has been made in reaching a new agreement.

“This is not a moment for rejoicing as it signifies that our negotiations with the Teachers’ Union have not progressed, but we must continue trying to move forward,” Webb said.

The Board President continued, “We cannot allow lack of progress to discourage us from talking with union leadership. Our students and tax payers are depending on us to negotiate a reasonable and affordable contract, and this Board remains committed to ongoing, good faith negotiations.”

The Board’s initial offer from 2008 was highlighted by an average 3.1% salary increase, employee health care contributions ranging from 10%-12%, elimination of Master’s Equivalency (MEQ) certificates, increasing the number of work days from 188.5 to 190.5, lengthening the work day from 7.0 hours to 7.5 hours, and removing the $27,500 retirement benefit.

The Board’s offer was later amended to include an increase in the health care contribution rate to 15% - 17% based on the NFT’s desire to maintain a high cost, top tier insurance plan.

Mr. Webb also confirmed the Board’s intention of seeking public input into the formation of the next contract offer. “The people have shown tremendous desire in helping the Board determine what is reasonable and affordable. Since they are the ones paying for all this, I see no reason why we shouldn’t consider their suggestions.”

The Neshaminy School District is facing an $11+ million deficit for the 2011/2012 school year as the Board considers cuts to student programs and staff layoffs to close the gap.

Webb restated his desire for transparent negotiations with the NFT moving forward, saying, “By videotaping our talks and allowing news reporters into the room, we can remove any and all doubt as to who said what. Maybe then some real progress can be made.”