Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NFT solution: Ignore PSERS, spend reserves, raise taxes

Here is an update of meeting #38:

The meeting began at 6:00pm and lasted until 8:07pm. Time was spent with mediator reviewing both current proposals from NFT dated  August 29, 2011 & Board Proposal of September 7, 2011. The board explained to the mediator why they can not accept the NFT proposal, making sure he had a understanding of the district finances.

The NFT proposal suggested taking money set aside, by the board to pay for Public School Employees Retirement System expenses for the teachers and other employees of the district, to settle the contract.

The NFT suggested that these funds would not be needed because the PSERS Fund investments would not require future increases, however, the latest audit Dec 9, 2011 shows a loss for the PSERS fund of 3.62 %. In fact, the contribution percentage increased from the current 8.65% for employers to 12.36% for 2012-2013 school year.

The NFT further suggested that monies in the District's Capital Improvement Fund could be used to help settle the contract. The board explained that there is $40,000,000 of capital improvement needs and due to Act 1 we have limited ability to float future debt. The board feels that our buildings are very important to our students success.

One of the NFT's other suggestions would require the district to raise taxes. Once again, Act 1 limits the amount the district can raise to $1,900,000. for the entire needs of the district which includes buildings,buses, fuel, salary's, student supplies, etc. Therefore it would be impossible to dedicate any potential tax increase monies strictly to teachers salaries only, however due to current economic conditions it would be hard to find support for a tax increase.

At the insistence of the state mediator, the board agreed to change their position on grievance and drug testing details. After consideration to these proposed concessions, the NFT came back asking for a study on drug testing by a committee of equal members (NFT & Board) to come up with appropriate drug testing to address the issue & cost associated to implement. The committee to formulate resolution for recommendation and adoption.

It was the opinion of the board after discussion with the mediator that the NFT was not serious in negotiating any matters of importance that could lead to a settlement so the session was ended.

There are two tentative meetings set up for 1/12/12 (meeting #39) & 1/26/12 (meeting #40).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The NFT presentation: Facts You Should Check

Earlier today, Board President Ritchie Webb issued the following statement in reaction to the recent NFT presentation titled "Facts You Should Hear" . . .

"Everything you need to know about how the NFT ignores facts and distorts the truth in their presentation is exemplified in the slide “Why it may not come to pass”

  Their very first bullet point notes that fiscal 2011 was an “exceptional” year for investment returns, suggesting that the PSERS actuarial assessments will go down and the impact to taxpayers will be minimized.

  If you have a Jeopardy buzzer to signify a wrong answer, press it now . . .

  FACT: Just a few weeks ago, the employer contribution estimates (percent of payroll) posted on the PSERS website listed the following through 2021:  

2012/2013 – 12.19%
2013/2014 – 16.69%.
2014/2015 – 21.18%.
2015/2016 – 23.66%.
2016/2017 – 24.50%.
2017/2018 – 25.27%.
2018/2019 – 26.24%.
2019/2020 – 26.26%.
2020/2021 – 26.26%  

FACT: If you calculate the contribution above against the current rate of 8.65%, based on an annual payroll of $50,202,220 (assuming no salary increases), by the year 2021, Neshaminy and PA taxpayers will have paid an additional $62.5 million to fund PSERS.

  FACT: Since the time the board calculated these numbers and when the NFT issued its presentation, the state has amended its employer contribution estimates and those numbers HAVE GONE UP, NOT DOWN.

  The following employer contributions are now posted on the PSERS website following their December update:  

2012/2013 – 12.36%.
2013/2014 – 16.75%.
2014/2015 – 21.25%.
2015/2016 – 25.56%.
2016/2017 – 26.26%.
2017/2018 – 26.80%.
2018/2019 – 27.53%.
2019/2020 – 28.04%.
2020/2021 – 27.76%  

FACT: If you calculate the updated contributions above against the current rate of 8.65%, based on an annual payroll of $50,202,220 (assuming no salary increases), by the year 2021, Neshaminy and PA taxpayers will have paid an additional $67.5 million to fund PSERS.

  Despite the NFT’s hopes that the tax impact of PSERS will go down, it is actually heading in the complete opposite direction to the tune of another $5 million.

  The current PSERS employer contribution estimates can be found on page 2 of this document posted to the PSERS website:

  Finally, insurance savings estimated by the NFT are grossly overstated. Their salary estimates do not include retro pay, or the educational movement increases written into their proposals.

  Minimal savings result from retirees since they continue to receive free health care and a $27,500 retirement bonus.

  If the NFT had given up their demand for retro payments for the last four years and also education credits, then we are closer to settling a contract. However, if not, then this presentation was all smoke and mirrors."    

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Webb challenges Boyd to go public with information

In reaction to comments posted on Facebook by teachers’ union president Louise Boyd following last night’s 37th negotiation session between the NSB and NFT, school board president Ritchie Webb said he is “tired and frustrated with the constant half-truths and blatant misinformation being spread by union leaders, especially Ms. Boyd.”

In her statement last night, Louise Boyd claimed that the NFT presented an “extensive fact-laden explanation” which revealed “ready sources of money” the board could use in negotiations. She also accused the Board of manipulating PSSA scores, and said that the Board refused to answer NFT questions and simply terminated the meeting.

Ritchie Webb refuted the union leader’s claims of available funding with the following clarification:

“ [AFT representative] Mr. Gould presented what I call HOPE Accounting. He suggested that the PSSER’s Fund was doing better and that their investments should reduce future increases.

He insinuated that the Board, if we wanted, could take the $ 4,000,000.00 we put aside for PSERS and give it to the NFT. He said this despite the fact that on November 22, 2011, our contribution rate for next year increased from the state projection of 12.19 percent to 12.36 percent. Our current rate is 8.65 percent.

I HOPE he is correct long term, because we are headed for disaster if the states projections are accurate.”

On the matter of PSSA scores, Webb said:

“I have seen two studies using the PA DOE [Department of Education] data. The first study used Math, Reading, Science, and Writing scores to show that our ranking in the state is 245th.

The second study, which was not as detailed, only used Math and Reading. This data set ranked Neshaminy 197th out of 500 school districts in the state.

Both studies showed a significant drop in scores from previous years. Both studies rated Neshaminy 9th and 10th in Bucks, respectively. On top of that Neshaminy High School has not made AYP in over seven years.

I think most reasonable people would conclude that all this data does not shine a positive light on the NFT. However, Louise and company wanted to make PSSA results the bully point of the night.”

Mr. Webb also gave an example of the kind of half-truths the NFT uses to cloud the truth about the district’s finances:

“They suggested that our payroll went down in the past four years, something on which we agree, because we reduced employees, however, our retirement costs and other expenses went up more than our payroll went down.

The bottom line is nothing was presented by the NFT that would allow us to move forward. All they accomplished last night was to use the same bullying tactics that make negotiations much more difficult than they should be.

I can only imagine how difficult it must be for our administrators to deal with the NFT leadership on a daily basis.”

Webb concluded his comments about last night’s meeting with the following statement:

“Time and time again, Louise Boyd and the union leaders have made outrageous and misleading statements to discredit the Board while giving false hope to the rank and file. If the teachers want to let her get away with this, that’s their choice. But quite frankly, I’m getting tired of it.

Louise has no intentions of negotiating and will just continue to put a cloud on everything and try to confuse issues; these meetings should be televised. The Board has been very open and thorough; our presentation November 22, 2011, opened our books for all to see. We are confident everything shown then is completely accurate, and nothing presented last night changed my mind.”