Monday, October 22, 2012

Board releases NFT counter proposal

Board President Ritchie Webb issued the following statement in reaction to the NFT’s offer:

“While the Board will withhold its official response until this Wednesday’s negotiation session, I think it’s important to comment on the current situation.

When the Board proposed the Council Rock solution to the teachers’ union, we knew it would be a game changing idea because it allowed teachers to recover most of the compensation levels (without retro pay) missed over the past 4 years.  This was an expensive concession on the part of the Board but one we felt was necessary to ending this impasse.  In exchange for this concession, the District would still see net savings in areas such as health care, salary administration, and retirement perks/benefits.

Under the circumstances, we saw this as a true win-win opportunity.

In its counter proposal, the NFT did acknowledge their willingness to make several significant concessions to the salary matrix, retirement perks/benefits, and health care.  So in this sense, this is the closest the two sides have come since the last agreement expired.  However, that is not to say that we are on the verge of a settlement.

There are some issues in the NFT counter proposal that have significant financial impact, potentially adding millions of dollars to our annual operating budget.  These issues by themselves would render the NFT’s offer as unaffordable to the District.  Any reports that the NFT proposal is “cost neutral” to the Board’s Council Rock offer are inaccurate and misleading.

Beyond the finances, there are elements of the NFT proposal with respect to day-to-day operations that further the distance between our two sides.  The union kept what they liked about the CR contract and they added in what they wanted to protect from the expired Neshaminy CBA.  This best-of-both-worlds strategy actually does more to stifle Administration than it does to recognize the decision-making authority it should have.

I am encouraged by the dialogue that has occurred since the Board offered the Council Rock solution, however, the parties have not yet made sufficient progress for the NFT to begin thinking that they are close to a settlement. The Board will continue to help foster understanding of this District’s financial and educational situation as we strive to settle on a contract that is respectful to our teachers, empowering to our District, and affordable to our tax payers.”