Despite its disappointment over the recent non-binding arbitration process, the Neshaminy School Board today contacted state-appointed mediator, John Cairns, to schedule further talks with the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers (NFT).
School Board President, Ritchie Webb, confirmed the Board's intention to continue pursuing a settlement with the teachers' union by saying, "There isn't a single Board member who doesn't want to get this thing [a new CBA] settled, but we have to keep our costs under control or else it will be the students who suffer." Webb added, "We are willing to continue talks as long as the NFT is."
Answering criticisms from NFT President, Louise Boyd, that the Board's recent rejection of an arbitrator's ruling was "vindictive," Mr. Webb noted, "The entire Board remains mystified why a supposedly neutral third party, who is an agent of the State, would issue a ruling that would force this district to exceed the State's Act 1 mandated inflationary limit; the process is broken."
Mr. Webb summarized his feelings by stating that teachers have taken the Board's stance personally when it really is all about the business of running a school district. "I sympathize with their frustration, but union leaders have yet to show how the District can afford their contract demands," said Webb.
When asked about a possible second labor strike this school year, Webb said, "I hope it doesn't come to that because ultimately it is the children who pay the price, but the Board remains committed to fiscal responsibility and educational results, and we are bolstered by the unwavering support of our community."