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).