Looking to T/E Teachers for ‘Shared Sacrifice’ – Pay Increase Waiver not Salary Freeze

School districts across the state are scrambling to plug projected budget gaps stemming from deep cuts in state funding and TESD is no different. The use of “shared sacrifice” has become a common and oft-repeated phrase in today’s political discourse. As school district budget deadlines loom, we are see that teachers (fairly or unfairly) are finding themselves of in the limelight on this topic.  In my view, we do need to boldly address our deficit crisis, but we need to do it in a way that is fair.

Last night’s TESD Finance Committee meeting had a very different tone than the last school board meeting. As the school board and administration discussed the few remaining available budget strategies, I had a sense that the school board was digging in its heels, expecting a ‘pay increase waiver’ versus a ‘salary freeze’, which the teachers union previously offered.  Although the T/E teachers union (TEEA) states the value of their salary freeze offer is $2.5 million, the school board counters that the freeze does nothing more than extend the teacher contract by a year and ultimately costs the district more money.  Encouraging the teachers union in the path of shared sacrifice, the school board prefers the teachers consider a pay increase waiver which, if I understand correctly, requires opening their current contract.

Credit needs to be extended to TEEA for their offer of a salary freeze to the school district. For some teachers, they believe that by offering a salary freeze, they are sharing the sacrifice. Let’s remember that Gov. Corbett suggested that teacher unions offer a salary freeze to their school districts to help with budget deficits. (I don’t recall his using the words, ‘pay increase waiver’.)  Yes, there is a budget crisis in school districts across the state; but I admit that I have difficulty with the breaking of a contract, which was negotiated in good faith by the teachers.  If contracts mean nothing then should we all go home and break our car purchase contract, our mortgage contract, and every other contract we signed in good faith where we expect both parties to be honorable.   What about ‘negotiating’ after the contract is fulfilled . . . ?

Looking at discussion from the other side, the school board is struggling with the remaining budget shortfall.  So . . . what do they do?  In their minds, they believe that the teachers should help with a ‘pay increase waiver’ (shared sacrifice) which according to their calculations could net $3 million.  At the meeting I had a sense that the school board is listening to the public and are interested in keeping the process transparent.  They offered that they have heard from TENIG, the non-instructional union, and are reviewing the offer.  Keeping the community ‘in the loop’ will prove a win-win for the school board, the teachers, and ultimately the taxpayers.

Setting aside the timeline debate of the April 14th TEEA teacher union offer letter of a salary freeze, and the rejection of the offer by the school board, last night the Finance Committee presented their side of the argument in favor of a pay increase waiver.  According to their analysis, the school district budget projection for 2011-12 is as follows:

  • Budget Projection as of May 2, 2011:      $3,170,509
  • Budget Projection (TEEA and TENIG Pay Increase Waiver:   $170,510
  • Budget Projection (TEEA Proposal Letter):         $946,122
  • Budget Projection (Custodial Outsourcing):        $2,370,438

Following the Finance Meeting, I asked Pete DePiano, president of the teachers union for his thoughts.  Here is his response,

“The 450+ members of the Tredyffrin/Easttown Education Association will stay true to their integrity in attempting to come up with a final cost savings offer for the district’s consideration.” 
 
Pete DePiano
President, TEEA

DePiano’s response tells us that the teachers are continuing to work on possible solutions to help with the budget crisis. Open and honest communication between the teachers union and the school board will aid greatly in the ongoing budget discussions. I want to believe that both sides can work together for the sake of the kids and the community.

Ray Clarke kindly offers his comments on the Finance Committee meeting below:

  • The TEEA proposal is judged to be worse on a 5-year time horizon than the status quo, because the projected $2.05 million of savings in 2011/12 is offset by salaries in the following years that are $0.5 million higher than they would otherwise be, due to two years of step movement rather than one. The higher salaries also trigger proportionate benefit cost increases, but there appear to be no fundamental differences between benefit programs, premium contributions, etc. in either scenario.
  • The salary “waiver” has the greatest impact on the district because the saving occurs every year. Although the model was presented without tax increases, it looks to me that, under this scenario, very modest increases in taxes (property or EIT) and gradual use of the “PSERS stabilization” fund balance could allow the district to fund the retirement fund beyond the five-year time horizon.
  • The Board did appeal again to the community to make their voice heard with legislators regarding the PSERS problem, and our frequent academic economist commenter also reminded us once again of the fundamentally bankrupt public pension plans. A couple of data points: the recent “fix” assumes an 8% investment return, and provides retiring career teachers with my estimate of an equivalent $1.25 million annuity. Just to keep this simple, here are the options:

 1. Reduce the liability by undoing the multiplier increase for all, not just new hires (the decrease needs a change in the state constitution, unlike the increase…)

2. Increase taxes:
a) statewide  (Marcellus gas, personal income, corporate income, etc.), or
b) locally (property, income)

3. Redirect spending from somewhere else. Like where? Pick your poison! What would Dinniman and Kampf propose?

  • There was a very unsatisfying discussion of a possible Activity Fee, punting it along to next week’s board meeting. Needless complications about different bases for charging. The bottom line: salaries and transportation for (non-mandated) extra-curricular activities cost the district $1.14 million a year. 80-85% of students participate in at least one. Nobody is making any argument that these activities are not totally worthwhile. A universal charge could be simply administered. So the issue is straightforward: do these continue to be funded by all taxpayers, or do families with high school and maybe middle school students bear a little more of the cost? Hopefully the full Board can have a discussion along these lines next week.
  • The timeline for an EIT study seems very compressed. The Board is considering appointing a study group; they need to get on that right away. If an EIT makes enough sense to put to a referendum, there’s a November 16th deadline for notifying the townships of that intent.
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  1. Seems to me that the Board is using the Buddy Ryan negotiating method .
    “my way or the highway.”. the teachers have said no to the waiver because, as Pattye says, they fairly negotiated their contract. If they take the waiver IT CANCELS their contract. I ask each and every one of you. WOULD YOU DO THAT????
    I am friends with a TE teacher who is not only angered by the board’s take it or leave it attitude but by his inability to speak in public to engage in dialogue to solve this problem as Petersen rightly says should be done. Do you know the Board passed a policy just this past fall whichpreventd teachers from speaking? No one is outraged over that, and they should be. One final point. Where is the discussion of all these changes and the effect on the educational program? My friend says Conestogas teachers will be teaching six classes next year. The only main line school to do so. No recognition of that shared sacrifice! And the elementary and ms teachers are already teaching more. Wake up community! Get involved!

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    The school board voted on a policy change in November 2010 in regards to how teachers could comment to students, parents, etc. in regards to school district matters. I will look for it and and add it as a comment to this post.

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    not appropriate for teachers to discuss contract in class unless it is a class about contracts, and even their own contract dispute would be a fishy subject for classroom discussion. Just like it is inappropriate for a teacher to ask if a student us a Democrat or Republican.
    Puts kids on spot and has the perception, if not reality of prejudicing teachers towards that student.
    And I know this happens

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    bluedog1776 Reply:

    My friend doesn’t want to talk to kids about this in class! He wants to be able to correct misinformation in public forums like Board meetings or Finance committee meetings. He says he is even afraid to tell the truth in committee meetings that he is in with parents for fear that he will be perceived as criticizing the administration. How can school problems get solved in that type of atmosphere.

    “I know this happens.” What does that mean? You are taking a shot at teachers?

    flyersfan Reply:

    Blue, when my kids come home and tell us that teachers ask them their political persuasion. That is exactly what that means. Clear?

    CJ of the Main Line Reply:

    Teachers who are taxpayers in the district are permitted to speak in public at the meetings.

    The union representative is appointed and accepted as the voice of the teachers to speak in public.

    I think that policy is appropriate.

    [Reply]

  2. Still hard to see how anyone else other than the teachers are being asked to “share” in the “sacrifice”. Surely they got a sweet contract last negotiation, but considering there have already been layoffs from cut programs, considering that they’ve already offered a freeze (which for them is certainly real money), and they are facing further layoffs and a Board that is going to propose no raises for the next contract (obviously just a proposal, not a final outcome) I’d think the teachers would be crazy to open the contract. There’s still no EIT on the horizon and there are no activity fees, and the district has a huge surplus. There are other districts out there that have EIT’s, significant student activity fees, and are cutting programs and yet still seem to be okay with just a pay freeze and not a waiver, and still have teacher raises in the contract. Talking about shared sacrifice is great, but when it just appears to be a negotiation tool for the next contract and for one side to give up a lot for not really much, it just seems like talk. Again, it’d be crazy for the teachers to open up the contract with nothing coming from the other side.

    [Reply]

    citizenone Reply:

    Ray mentioned that the “The TEEA proposal is judged to be worse on a 5-year time horizon than the status quo, because the projected $2.05 million of savings in 2011/12 is offset by salaries in the following years that are $0.5 million higher than they would otherwise be, due to two years of step movement rather than one.”

    This is interesting. I assumed that a pay freeze would not result in two years of step movement in the 2nd year. If my assumption was incorrect, as I think it is, then the TEEA has made NO sacrifice and the board is correct in refusing the offer. Essentially, the TEEA has made the district a $2.05M loan this year that will be paid back with additional half-million dollar yearly installment payments forever.

    [Reply]

    Incorrect info Reply:

    The teachers would NOT go up 2 steps the next year…a freeze is just that. No movement except involving education levels would happen the next year. Read their offer letter. I’m sincerely hoping this is simply some not knowing the facts versus a malice attempt to distort what the teachers have already offered to sacrifice. Also, no I’m not a teacher just a resident who found out the facts.

    [Reply]

    give it a rest Reply:

    Yes it’s “real money” but I assure you the teachers who are disappointed that it is not enough do not have (on the whole) any understanding whatsoever of what the implications are….or why it’s a hollow offer taken in context with time. They are manipulated by the state union I assure you. They don’t understand their contract — they look at their pay stub and at the salary schedule to know what they will make next year.

    So the confusion is intentional.

    [Reply]

    give it a rest Reply:

    There is not a “huge surplus” — it is largely designated for one time items (the PSERS spike). Using it to pay current expenses doubles the problem for next year. And there is only one way to add to the “fund balance” — that is with excess revenue over budget (or expenses that fell below budget, but that’s not likely in this cut to the bone expense budget)

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  3. For those who don’t understand what the teachers will get in return for accepting a pay waiver –

    They will get to keep a number of their colleagues employed.

    There is a $3M shortfall. There is no more revenue to be had. The easy cuts have been taken. Using the fund balance only delays the inevitable. With teacher compensation comprising 50% of expenditures, the only place to cut is teaching compensation or teachers. The union can either accept a pay waiver or say goodbye to some of their colleagues.

    [Reply]

  4. BlueDog says that the board recently passed a policy preventing teachers from speaking at meetings. That’s just not true.

    All school board policies are available online, and I just searched the manual. There is no policy saying teachers cannot speak at School Board meetings during public comment periods. There is a policy saying only residents can speak at meetings. So if a teacher was not a resident, he would not be invited to speak during public comments. Non-resident teachers can share their feedback with the board through their union representative who is permitted to speak at board meetings.

    TENIG spoke at recent meetings against custodial outsourcing. The board heard from the TENIG President and from multiple TENIG members who are district residents. Teachers have the same ability to speak as TENIG.

    Pattye- The pay waiver would not reopen the contract. It would keep the terms of the contract in place until its scheduled end date but would waive the pay increase in the contract. The pay freeze would delay the pay increase by one year AND extend the contract by one additional year. During that time, teachers could move two steps, continue to obtain tuition reimbursement and move to the right on the matrix. It also would extend by one year the current medical plans and the minimal cost-sharing of those plans. So the teachers would actually gain something through the pay freeze as they’d still get their raises and also get an extra year of the substantial benefits in the current contract.

    This comment by TE Observer seems to reflect the viewpoint of the average teacher: “There are other districts out there that have EIT’s, significant student activity fees, and are cutting programs and yet still seem to be okay with just a pay freeze and not a waiver, and still have teacher raises in the contract.” What a perfect way of expressing the entitlement of the unions. Unions are entitled to teacher raises. If it causes financial problems for the district, then the taxpayers should face increased burdens in the form of EITs, activity fees and even program cuts. Meanwhile those taxpayers have seen their work responsibilities increase over the past few years even as their pay has decreased (or –if they are lucky– stayed flat).

    The board negotiated a stupid contract last time, so it’s fair for the teachers to take what they received in the contract. After all, it was the board’s dumb decision to agree to such raises and benefits. But you cannot blame the taxpayers for being angry about these raises. Ultimately, I think taxpayers blame the board as well as the teachers for the raises. The board was dumb to give the raises, and the teachers are selfish for keeping them in light of the economic crash and severe financial problems. So when there are layoffs and increased responsibilities and increased class sizes, teachers have only themselves to blame because these strategies are necessary in order to pay for their benefits and salaries.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Here is Policy 4022, which the board approved in November 2010 which addresses the procedure for teachers with concerns/criticsm of school district practices, etc. And you are right, that unless an employee of the school distrist is also a resident, he or she is not permitted to speak at board meetings. I do not think that any nonresidents are permitted to speak at school board meetings.

    Policy 4022

    Addressing Employee Concerns and Criticism

    During the course of fulfilling employment responsibilities, the District recognizes that an employee may have a concern or may wish to offer constructive criticism with regard to District positions and practices. To express a concern, a District employee is expected to direct the concern to the immediate supervisor, and the supervisor will address the concern to the appropriate policy as cross-referenced below.

    The District expressly prohibits TESD employees from directing concerns or criticism to students, parents or other non-District employee members of the school community for the employee’s personal benefit or work conditions, or which otherwise materially
    disrupt the District operations.

    The Superintendent shall issue Administrative Regulations consistent with this policy and applicable law.

    Cross Reference: Policy 1122: Complaints or Comments Regarding the District, Policy 4330: Unlawful Harassment by and of TESD Employees, and Policy 4025: Code of Civility (TESD Employees)

    Adopted: November 22, 2010
    Tredyffrin/Easttown School District

    [Reply]

    Kevin Grewell Reply:

    Pattye,

    You also need to obtain the corresponding Administrative Regulation to see how exactly this might be implemented. The policy is set by the board and is typically a broad brush. The details of the day to day implementation are usually left to to the Superintendent to work out in the regulation (still subject to board approval). The regulations should have the same number as the policy. I don’t think regulations are avaialble on line but can be had for the asking.

    I think the intent is clear and acceptable – to prevent teachers from using kids and parents to air grievances or advocate for the union, which would be inappropriate and disruptive of the educational process.

    By the way, my experience has been that most of our teachers are more professional than that – I don’t think they would abuse their position that way. But I’m sure it has happened, which is why there is a policy.

    It is also problematic for teachers to discuss political matters in general, although it can be appropriate when the class subject requires it and it is done respectfully and with opportunity for all sides to be considered. I believe there is a separate policy on that, if memory serves. (might be covered in the Code of Civility)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    As a former board member, I can assure you that the classroom has been used against kids. Not all teachers, not all kids, but some. And it was tough. Board meetings are for residents and representatives. And teachers whining that they cannot make their case in a parent conference are completely out of line. You don’t talk working conditions with parents. Period. All the power is in the teacher’s hands. ALL. And talking to parents about their “plight” is just another way the PSEA encourages undermining public debate.
    Our teachers are there to educate our kids — not negotiate with our parents.
    WHICH — by the way — is why an activity fee — directed at the beneficiary of the services — is a viable option.

    Kevin Grewell Reply:

    Thanks, John. Figures that a lawyer would be familiar with administrative procedure and law. Sadly, much of the public is not, but they need to undrstand it if they are ever dealing with a “policy” issue. The “devil” is always in the details, and regulations are the details . . .

    [Reply]

  5. Pattye, as you said, “Open and honest communication between the teachers union and the school board will aid greatly in the ongoing budget discussions. I want to believe that both sides can work together for the sake of the kids and the community.”

    Just a few problems with that: This is not a level playing field for communication.

    1. Labor laws are such that the union and its members can say pretty much anything they want, and the school board members have to run everything by a lawyer or risk being sued or fined by pro-union regulators.

    2. Hence, the union and teachers can leak and spread whatever information they want. They can run a misinformation campaign secure in the knowledge that the school board will take at least a week to rebut anything, and will then only be able to do so in its formal venue. For example, the union can “offer” small savings now in return for larger payouts in a year, and they can call it a “salary freeze.” Union members can make misleading complaints about administrative rules as a ploy for sympathy … even while they all but violate those rules. (Remember that communist solidarity day they held, wearing red to classes to draw student attention to their “plight”?)

    3. The union and its members have made it clear that they don’t care about anything but maintaining and expanding their lavish compensation packages. Screw the kids. Heck, screw their junior colleagues: Last-in-first-out, mates! If we could have five young, qualified, eager teachers for the price of one senior teacher laying up a six-figure pension just by showing up to put a DVD on each day, the union doesn’t care! TEEA, like all its confederated public teacher unions across this country, exists to look out for the interests of its senior members, and we haven’t seen any real indications to the contrary.

    [Reply]

    bluedog1776 Reply:

    Isn’t it interesting that you are accusing the teachers of spreading misinformation when:
    a. the board lied in public about not receiving a pay freeze offer.
    b. the board purposely confused waiver/freeze language in order to confuse the public and make the teachers look bad
    c. how dare you accuse the union of screwing kids! Are you accusing teachers of showing up each day to show DVDs?
    d. how do you reconcile your bs about the teachers only caring about themselves. They made a valid offer to the board for $2.5 million.

    We need a real dialogue in this community. We don’t need right wing tea party crap like the stuff you are dishing out.

    [Reply]

    give it a rest Reply:

    Not exactly contributing to the dialogue with “right wing tea party crap” comments….

    The teachers are not spreading anything, but I can assure you the average teacher is as clueless as the average taxpayer. They get most of their information from their “reps” — who as far as most teachers are concerned are there to do the dirty work.

    Reference to the TEAO “before the impending crisis”…does that mean we want our board members to be economists to predict financial swings in the government?

    Teachers sharing the sacrifice. Just how does that happen? In the bargaining world of teachers, they only do what they agree to. If the board gave away the store, then they can either give some back and keep their jobs, or keep what they have and watch the ship start to sink. It’s that simple. Pete DiPiano is taking his orders from Harrisburg. He’s not trained to play union games either, and I assure you he doesn’t want to. But go ahead and support the unions “hard fought gains”….which were not hard fought at all, because boards have worked to ensure labor peace. Unless you have had a PSEA Uniserve rep attack you at the table, you have NO idea. And remember — most of the board members have kids in the schools. Who exactly are they fighting for?

    [Reply]

    Lysander Reply:

    The Wall Street Journal has had at least one editorial-page feature on public education issues almost every day for the last month. Here’s a great quote from a recent one by former NYC public school chancellor Joel Klein:

    As Albert Chanker, the late, iconic head of the UFT, once pointedly said, “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.”

    [Reply]

  6. New Revenue Raiser:

    Ask a Bravo TV camera crew to follow the TE school board. The title could be, “Real School Boards of the Main Line.” I think people across the country would be fascinated by their lies, bullying, and cowardness. Ratings equal big dollars. No more money worries.

    Here’s the set-up:

    Intro:
    Previously on the “Real School Boards of the Main Line.” T/E school board member and President openly lie in public when a question is asked about whether the board has heard back from the TEEA regarding the requested pay waiver. The rest of the board makes no attempt to correct the information. Later, evidence, in the form of a letter from the union President, is posted that clearly shows a date well before the question is asked! Community outcry?? None.

    Our current episode occurs at the latest finance meeting. Slides are projected that show the union offer would actually save no money based on the fact that teachers would move two steps after the freeze. Questions arise as to the truthfulness of such analysis. Did the union really expect two years of step increases after a freeze year? That investigation continues.

    Back to our show. Next, a school board member states that if the teachers would take a pay waiver, the custodians would not have to be outsourced. Negotiating in public _Check; Bullying_Check, Cowardly pitting employee group against employee group_Check. Taxpayers begin to seriously get involved. Questions arise. What happens to the custodians next year? What about the year after that? Wouldn’t the TE school board just love to get rid of an entire employee group belonging to PSERS? If the custodians are part of the TE family, aren’t they worth keeping? The school board deflects the issue back to the teachers. Let’s make them look like greedy SOB’s. They only teach the future. No big deal. Let’s continue the “public” negotiations and bullying. They decide delete their mission statement from all public sources. No reason to have one if you don’t believe in it.

    Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode of “Real School Boards of the Main Line.” You just know with this gang – it’s gonna be good!

    [Reply]

  7. Thank you for posting the policy Pattye. This policy does not prevent public comment and is intended to protect parents and students.

    If a teacher asks a parent to protest a change (e.g teaching 6 periods instead of 5), sign a petition, etc…a parent may feel intimidated. Teachers have a lot of power over students (e.g. college recommendations, grades, etc), and parents would not want to prejudice a teacher against their child.

    [Reply]

  8. Citizenone,

    I thought for sure you would respond to my post yesterday. I apologized for and clarified the two pension issue but I would be interested on your thoughts with regard to why it is okay to use “like” districts to compare salaries in the “marketplace” for administrators but not teachers? Seems hypocritical and elitist to me.

    [Reply]

    citizenone Reply:

    Hi Going On,

    What point are you trying to make with respect to administrators? Do you feel administrator pay is out of line with other districts? Are they getting large percentage increases? Are administrative staffing levels out of line with other districts?

    So far, I find discussion of administrator compensation a distraction to the current budget problem because, by my estimate, administrator compensation is less than 15% of teacher compensation. And I have no indication that administrators are asking for 7% pay increases.

    I open to be convinced otherwise if you have some compelling evidence.

    [Reply]

  9. I echo many comments in support of the Board here. Just a couple of extra points:

    1. Last night’s analysis presented the numbers I reported. I’m not sure how much step and level movement they represent, but the net result was no change in five year compensation over the base case. Of course, if the letter was interpreted incorrectly, there is nothing to stop TEEA from clarifying its position.

    2. Similarly, there is nothing to stop the Board from clarifying its position, either, and having a dialog to work on the issues most important to the TEEA.

    3. However, there has to be a recognition that there is no endless supply of money in the district. House prices and incomes are down, jobs have been lost. At the same time, compensation expense rises inexorably. Both current compensation (wages and benefits) and deferred compensation (pensions). In the last decade, the top level matrix and multiplier increases have increased the value of the pension by 56%.

    4. Price times Quantity = Cost. If the union is intractable on P, then the only thing left to work with is Q.

    5. I’m not sure that there other districts that have just “paused” in the middle of a contract as the TEEA is proposing. Most that I’ve seen freeze salaries and benefits at the end of a contract. Can someone post a link to a specific similarity to T/E?

    [Reply]

  10. Pattye,

    Is there anyway you can get clarification of the union’s freeze proposal. In the letter to the school board it seems clear that the teachers would go to their 2011-2012 step in 2012-2013 not jump two. It doesn’t make sense. If the school board didn’t understand, wouldn’t they ask the union?

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    What I was told was that the teachers would ‘freeze’ their salary level in June 2011 for one-year, and then in June 2012 the teachers would pick-up where they had left it. They would not then jump 2 levels — their level in June 2012 would be exactly the level they were in June 2011 and then go from there. The teachers would go the step in 2012-13 that they should have gone to in 2011-12. I was specifically told they would not double-up on the steps to make up for it, they lose the year by the salary freeze. If there is any further clarification, it needs to come from the TEEA to the school board.

    [Reply]

  11. Thanks, Pattye!

    Ray,

    So the numbers presented by the school board were based on TEEA members jumping two steps in 2012-2013? I am really concerned about this school board. If they used numbers based on 2 steps vs. 1 step, they have once again deceived the public. What the heck?

    [Reply]

    give it a rest Reply:

    If it’s possible to believe it, they are not trying to deceive the public. They are trying to get the problem under control. Bidding against the union in public — saying “thank you” when they know that the strategy is designed to take control of the debate — is just not effective. Last year Debra Ciamacca stated the union offer, knowing full well that it was hollow and meaningless. But earnest nonethe less. This play is being produced by the PSEA. Our teachers are not professional negotiators. They are not cleverly trying to craft these options. The PSEA is. Our teachers are as much pawns in this production as anyone. And this board can only respond with the information they are prepared to commit to. They cannot think out loud…because they are bidding against themselves. “Will you take this….how abou this?” We cannot on this blog state so affirmatively that we want cost management, and then spend time ranting about who gave away the store? Who cares? Time to put the store back on solid foundations. If that means taxing you more, then you might box the board into that being the only option. If you want us to fix the problem — even a little at a time — you have to change the status quo — which is the current teacher contract. It wasn’t “hard fought” ….they didn’t walk any picket lines, no one gave up their jobs for it. And only new hires have taken job cuts. How about a contract that is “hard earned” instead?

    [Reply]

  12. I would just like to point out that the TEEA has a website they had not used in over a year for any purpose, and now Pattye discovers they post these letters. The TEEA is being run by the PSEA. We can debate the pros and cons of their entitlement to retaining what was in their contract — or we can suggest that we find something that helps SOLVE this economic crisis. Because it is NOT of our own doing…the fund balance is there to handle the PSERS spikes, NOT to fund daily expenses. The teachers individually are wonderful, but the union collectively is single-minded, and guided by the PSEA. The PSEA is about retaining power. Boards up to this point only heard from communities that they enjoyed labor peace. Our teachers are NOT paid more than local districts — with changing contract years, they all bid against each other. The unions get together EVERY SUMMER and strategize, cherry picking from contracts across the state as to what goals are for the contracts coming up that year. The local school boards NEVER (okay, maybe rarely) get together and identify goals by district. The Union has professional negotiators. The Board has 9 volunteers whose skill sets are NEVER (okay, maybe rarely) vetted by voters for their prowess in this process.
    Boards didn’t give away the store, but I don’t think everyone on a board understands the process of salary steps and matrices and lateral movement and step movement and benefit costs vs. benefit packages over a 4 year contract. So boards hire a negotiator, who also has nothing at stake but marching orders…

    DOES THIS COMMUNITY want to get costs under control? If the answer is YES, then you have to step up and support the board approach. If you don’t mind kicking it down the road another year or two, and want to hope the US economy, the PA economy and the local economy recover sufficiently to continue with status quo, then go ahead and encourage the teachers that they are doing enough. They are — from their viewpoint — but they are NOT from the viewpont of SOLVING THE PROBLEM.
    And please don’t be fooled by the board’s lack of transparency vs. the posting of all of it on the TEEA website. The state version of the PA LRB has sanctioned plenty of “negotiating in public” efforts of school boards. Should the board be more forthcoming? Ask them when they knock on your door to say hello during this campaign?!!

    [Reply]

    Mad Anthony Reply:

    Well stated.

    [Reply]

  13. Citizenone,

    Yes, the teacher’s contract is more expensive, duh! There are 450 plus who actually have a real impact on kids on a daily basis. My point was not whether TE administrators are overpaid. You were the one who said that TE teachers are overpaid because they have shown us “with their feet.” I would suggest the same is true of the administrators. You complain when teachers point to other districts (especially that outlier – Lower Merion) as a basis for negotiations. Yet, you don’t have a problem with comparing TE to other “like” districts when it comes to “marketplace” compensation for admistrators. It is, quite frankly, unbelieveable to me.

    In a time of such economic crisis, I think it is reasonable for the public to examine everyone’s compensation. After all, they are all PUBLIC employees. I know you call it a “distraction” to focus on administrators and that sure is convenient on your part. Thus, once again, I believe your stance is hypocritical and elitist!

    [Reply]

    citizenone Reply:

    Hi Going On,

    First, the “duh”, “hypocritical” and “elitist” doesn’t help move the dialog along.

    Second, we agree that ” it is reasonable for the public to examine everyone’s compensation”. If you want to examine the administrators’ compensation, have at it. I’ve made no statement pro or con on administrative salaries. It’s not a priority for me. If it’s a burning issue for you, do some research, present the data and draw some conclusions. Don’t expect me to do the hard work for you.

    [Reply]

    ted d Reply:

    When can we examine your compensation, citizenone?? What in fact do you do for this community other than spout vitriol like calling teachers communists for wearing red to show solidarity with teachers in Wisconsin?

    Do you volunteer for the schools? Do you generate any revenue for this district? Where is your personal sacrifice? You have low taxes. You have no EIT. You have one of the best school districts in the state. Have you lost your job? Were you punished by a teacher long ago and haven’t been able to recover? You should thank a teacher for being able to post your eloquently misguided posts.

    And stop calling those who are sick of your constant misinformation campaign ‘elitist.’ We are simply sick of your distortions, and you will NOT solve this budget crisis on the backs of the middle class and teachers. Again, I ask you, where is your sacrifice? Will you be donating some of your salary to this budget crisis?? And don’t say you already are through taxes and paying for teacher pensions. Teachers pay into their pensions and they had nothing to do with their mismanagement. I’m sorry if you were too short-sighted to start your own 401K and your private-sector company was to cheap to match your contributions.

    Get over your ‘us against teachers’ attitude and please stop distorting the truth…over and over again. And please, please be sure to share with us your amazing contributions to our community. Stop relying on us “to do the hard work for YOU.”

    [Reply]

    citizenone Reply:

    Hi ted d,

    It’s obvious you have not taken the time to read my posts.

    You said, “What in fact do you do for this community other than spout vitriol like calling teachers communists for wearing red to show solidarity with teachers in Wisconsin?”

    I never said that.

    You said, “stop calling those who are sick of your constant misinformation campaign ‘elitist.”

    I never used the term elitist nor do I deal in misinformation. Please provide an example of misinformation.

    You said, “We are simply sick of your distortions, and you will NOT solve this budget crisis on the backs of the middle class and teachers.

    I sense it’s easier for you to mount a character assassination campaign and deal in empty rhetoric rather than doing the hard work of constructing a logical argument. If you are a teacher, I am worried about what is taught in your classroom.

    give it a rest Reply:

    I’m going to step in here and suggest that I have been reading this blog for a very long time, and these spontaneous recent attacks against Citizen One are simply not based on fact. You are responding to something you think you have read, not something CO has written. Instead of raging at the bloggers, I would ask that you make a case for your position so that we can understand it. Thanks.

    give it a rest Reply:

    No real markekt for teachers — more supply than demand. totally opposite for administrators. Don’t just look at the compensation — look at the t urnover in underpaying districts for admins.

    [Reply]

    ted d Reply:

    No character assassination, citizenone, just a question. What do you do for this community? And you came up with nothing. Not surprising really, but sad. And I’m much less worried about what’s being taught in our classrooms than what’s being taught in households like yours. As for your misinformation…

    Citizenone,
    The unemployment rate in Chester County is now down to 6%. Quite a difference from your 9.2% (from What’s Going On)

    You claimed T/E teachers never leave for higher paying jobs… false

    Plus you were one of the first to maintain teachers would jump 2 steps after freezing with no support of that whatsoever.

    Plus you just seem to take so much glee in stating how teachers will be furloughed for wanting their contract fulfilled as promised.

    I have no time to dig out the rest of your misinformation as these threads become ponderous, and I’m sure you’ll have some witty retort for that. But we’re still waiting for your answer about serving our community and YOUR shared sacrifice. It shouldn’t take you long to fabricate something heartwarming, I’m sure.

    [Reply]

    give it a rest Reply:

    CO contributes as much as anyone who takes the time to post. WHY the personal attacks here? What post references that TE teachers never leave. They do — but only by specialties and when the other district will hire at the step they are seeking. PA teachers are tenured by the state, not by a district.

    No offense folks — but you sound like teachers who are drinking the PSEA Koolaid and feeling attacked because they are telling you that you are not appreciated. This is about money — which ALWAYS feels personal, because it is.

    Jack Albion Reply:

    “But we’re still waiting for your answer about serving our community and YOUR shared sacrifice. It shouldn’t take you long to fabricate something heartwarming, I’m sure.”

    Doesn’t strike me as a fair question unless you’re prepared to answer the same.

    citizenone Reply:

    As always, when people disagree with your position and can’t form a logical argument to support their position, they go in for personal attacks. Sad, but not unexpected.

    ted d & Albion, if you have something to contribute to the topic of this thread – Looking to T/E Teachers for ‘Shared Sacrifice’ – Pay Increase Waiver not Salary Freeze – we’d love to hear it.

  14. After reviewing the May 2, 2011 Finance Committee Meeting documents, one particular document stands out regarding the waiver/freeze issue: The Draft Pending Committee Approval “Finance Committee Meeting Minutes” from the April 11, 2011 finance meeting—the last bullet under Budget Strategies reads: “The Committee summarized the discussion by noting that the “Pay Waiver” budget strategy is the best strategy remaining and encouraged the collective bargaining units to consider agreeing to the pay freeze.

    Aren’t these minutes reviewed prior to approving? I guess they can’t alter what they actually said in a public forum. I don’t think the public is confused as to when freeze vs. waiver is to be specified –it’s the board that can’t get it straight!

    The board spent more time “talking around” the “numbers” in their projections and why it’s a better “shared sacrifice” for TEEA to consider a waiver instead of a freeze rather than taking a minute or two to acknowledge the fact that they (the board) misrepresented receipt of TEEA’s salary freeze proposal.

    Pattye, the April 11, 2011 committee meeting’s earlier document speaks for itself. But the following documents and/or questions are causing me some confusion and I really need your help in getting some answers.

    I am struggling with some projected 2011-12 school year examples of “shared sacrifice.”

    I thought “shared sacrifice” (in board member terminology) meant that if TEEA and TENIG or some combination of both offered some sort of freeze for 2011-12, all other individuals and non-contract groups would also be frozen at this school year’s (2010-11) income level. Another words, they wouldn’t get an increase for 2011-12 due to shared sacrifice.

    More documents surfaced from the May 2 finance meeting creating some confusion with shared sacrifice:

    Projection with TEEA and TENIG Pay Increase Waiver document (page 15):
    The 2nd line of the banner at the bottom reads: No Salary Increases for Teachers, Administrators, Supvr/Confid, Aides or Para’s after FY 2011-12. Is this actually saying those mentioned in this banner are getting an increase in 2011-12? If so, why are teachers mentioned? Wouldn’t they be waiving an increase according to the document title?

    Projection with TEEA Proposal Letter document (pg 16):
    The 2nd line of the banner at the bottom reads: No Salary Increases for Administrators, Supv/Confid, Aides or Para’s after FY 2011-12. Is this actually saying those mentioned in this banner are getting an increase in 2011-12? What’s the TENIG group getting here in this document? Freeze, waiver or increase???

    Another question: Where is a document that explains in detail what’s contributing to the budget imbalance on the expenditure side of the 2011-12 proposed budget. Did I miss this somewhere along the way???

    I think the board needs to do more clarification—oh no!!!

    [Reply]

    Perplexed TE Resident Reply:

    Everyone should read this especially Ray and Real…this is the district the union referenced in their letter to the board. Very, very interesting!

    http://octorara.blogspot.com/2011/03/hempfield-teachers-agree-to-pay-freeze.html

    [Reply]

    Ray Clarke Reply:

    Many thanks for the link. Hempfield’s situation is like T/E’s: the contract is frozen and extended for a year. (The contract seems to be newer, and the increases smaller). Interesting coincidence that Hempfield is the model used by the consultants for raising revenues through use of advertising

    That blog has handy links to many school district budget discussions. There seem to be as many different approaches as there are districts. Here’s a link to a report about Donegal school district, which is adopting something of the approach advocated by TESD:
    http://octorara.blogspot.com/2011/04/donegal-school-board-teachers-ok-cuts.html

    “Donegal school board members Wednesday night unanimously approved a reduction in contracted salaries offered by the district’s teachers’ union.

    “This is better than a salary freeze,” Amy Swartz, Donegal business manager, said.

    The board agreed with a round of applause to the teachers.”

    [Reply]

    Perplexed TE Resident Reply:

    Ray,

    I read the article about Donegal…yes, they took a pay decrease but also got a contract extension and their raises reinstated later on. So, this is not an example of what the board is proposing. See below…

    “As part of the offer approved by the board, the four-year contract — approved in early 2010 — would be extended an additional year until June 2015.
    Swartz said the 3.5 percent rate would be reinstated for the last two years of the contract.”

  15. This is good research on your part, but I think it’s fair to say that this has been going on for two years — so to try to find the cookie crumbs at this point — and point to errors in terminology etc. is kind of silly. This is not the board of IBM — this is a volunteer board that is elected to serve the taxpayers and the students. They do the job TO THE BEST OF THEIR ABILITY, but voters “hire them” and to suggest that they go over every detail is going to disappoint you. This is an educational institution. This employs largely educators and service personnel. The PSEA budget for their staff is beyond anything you can find in the school district, so the subtext from the public information is going to create doubt. You have to attend meetings, read minutes, ask questions, communicate with the board, and still do RTK requests to get all the info. Scrutiny designed to ferret out errors isn’t going to accomplish much more than undermining the faith in the process.
    That sounds like I don’t agree with scrutiny — I do — but not at the expense of progress.

    [Reply]

    mimiM Reply:

    reply for: Give it a Rest

    Give it a Rest SHOULD take a rest ON TAXPAYER SCRUTINY!

    Taxpayers have the right to scrutinize documents especially the “public” financial ones! Jobs and programs are on the line and money is supposedly tight and you are correct, the district’s staff is mostly educators. Therefore, the members of this community, which includes our school board, must expect “100 percent” from all!!! Haven’t you noticed that we the taxpayers are the school district’s “real” employer? The school board is basically the unpaid “watchdog” for us taxpayers over the school district’s operation and they should act and make decisions when required with “their eyes open” and in a professional manner.

    If a taxpayer has confusion about anything at any time, which has been made “public” by the board, the taxpayer has the right to an explanation in any media such as this one. Any and all “terminology” expressed on “public” “financial” analytical documents must define “with clarity” the complete picture. If pertinent “terminology” is missing, it opens up the floodgates for scrutiny of data. It doesn’t take an educator to figure that one out!

    [Reply]

  16. Citizenone,

    It’s clear it is not a priority for you. However, can’t you at least answer my question? Why do you feel it is okay to compare administrative compensation to other “like” districts in the “marketplace” but not teacher compensation?

    [Reply]

  17. Going On,

    You’ve dreamed up an argument I’ve never made and a position I never taken. Then you ask me to respond and defend it. It’s boring and a waste of time.

    But, maybe I’m wrong. Please point me to a post where I’ve said, “it is okay to compare administrative compensation to other “like” districts in the “marketplace” but not teacher compensation.”

    [Reply]

  18. Citizen One
    I agree — I think someone has gotten confused and taken an approach to you that I cannot find any reason to support.

    But I’ll offer one response to Going On….teachers bargain their wages. They are tenured and really don’t move easily between districts. So the decision to compare to other districts is one made by the board. Administrators can and do change districts, and are in demand and short supply (teachers absolutely are not). So retention is a goal with administrators that is not comparable to teachers. Sure TE hates to lose teachers to another district, but it’s a rare situation. And it’s usually for a specialty position (Music, Science) Administrators are actively recruited by other districts.

    Does that help?

    [Reply]

  19. In asking some questions, here is what I believe the “pay freeze” contemplates as it stands:
    The teachers salary is frozen, but their steps advance because they add another year to their “seniority.” Right now, steps represent time in job. So while they might stay on step 10s salary for next year (their 11th year teaching), when it resumes, they would be entitled to step 12 pay. Perhaps that is not the intent, but that is at present the understanding of the language. Hence the concern that it’s a 2 step raise.

    [Reply]

  20. Posted this on another topic — but the discussion seems to be happening here.

    Remember — we are talking about salary schedules, not salaries. You don’t just go from step 1 to step 2 to step 3. You go from Year 1- Step 1, to Year 2-Step 2, and then Year 3- Step 3.

    So the question is :
    Are they going from Year 2-Step 2 and staying at Year 2- Step 2, or are they going to Year 3-step 2, or are they staying on year 2- but going to step 3? What is freezing? Any of those wo uld be a freeze, but all would have very major changes for subsequent years.

    So using the example you used, but a four year schedule:

    Right now, our sample teacher is on Year 3-Step 10 in the M+15 column. They are earning 69,540.

    If the freeze is staying on year 3-step 10, M+15, that’s simple. They get $69,540 again.

    IF they stay on year 3-step 10, but move to M+30, they get $76,350. — an 11% raise.
    IF they stay on step 10, but move to year 4′s schedule, staying with M+15, they get $82,680. That’s a 19% raise.
    IF they stay in year 3′s schedule, but move to Step 11, again staying at M+15, the salary would be $71,140, or a 2.3% raise.

    ANY of those scenarios could be called a salary freeze. Regardless, if you take the simplest of them — staying on the 2010-11 schedule (year 3 of the contract) and not moving vertically (to step 11) or horizontally (to Masters Plus 30), — then what happens in year 5 — ? What “catch up” takes place?

    We know that they go to the 4th year of the contract schedule? Do they continue to advance in seniority, and now reclaim their rightful step/educational credits? Do they go only to the next step (from year 3-step 10 to year 4-step 10)…which means the year 4 schedule is in place for year 5. If they all take their status quo horizontal movements, we are talking about anywhere from 800 to more than $8,000.

    [Reply]

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