TEEA and T/E School Board Reach Contract Negotiation Impasse

With only a few days remaining in June, it does not appear that a new contract will be signed in the T/E School District by the June 30 deadline.  According to the Tredyffrin-Easttown Education Association (TEEA), attempts to resolve the contract differences between the school board and teachers have reached an impasse, and therefore they are requesting independent fact-finding from the PA State Labor Board.

On Monday, June 18, TEEA made a 2-year “off the record” proposal to the school board that “…  included a reduction in health care benefits, an increase in health care premium share including a shift to percentage-share, a reduction in advanced studies assistance, and a full salary freeze in the first year. In return, TEEA asked for salary schedule advancement for non-master teachers in year two, a one-year-only “off-schedule” salary premium for master teachers in year two, and “no-demotions” language for the duration of the contract.  This offer was rejected.”

The counter-offer from the school board asked the teachers for a salary reduction, approximately $8,000 per teachers.  According to TEEA, the reduction could equal as much as 13% for some of their members.  Earlier in the month, the teachers had agreed to modify their contract regarding tuition reimbursement.  Their offer which was accepted and at last week’s School Board meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding was entered into which modified the existing contract for one year.  The MOU represented a savings of more than $400K; as a result, teacher demotions were taken off the table as a budget strategy.

It has becoming increasingly more common for PA teacher unions to take the route to request an independent arbitrator from the PA Labor Relations Board.  Under Act 195, this is a process used to resolve contract negotiations when the parties have reached an impasse.  The severe economic times and decreasing revenue are creating major challenges for school districts; therefore making reasonable teacher negotiations almost impossible.  As I understand the process, the independent arbitrator will hear both sides, with TEEA and the School Board presenting evidence to support their position.  Based on the fact-finding, the Labor Relations Board will issue a report containing their findings along with recommendations for settlement.  It should be noted that the report is non-binding and the recommendations require the approval of both TEEA and the School Board.

According to a recent Daily Local article, West Chester teachers and their school board are also far apart on their new contract negotiations.  Like T/E School District, Jeffrey Sultanik is serving as West Chester School District’s chief negotiator.

However, unlike TEEA, the West Chester Area Education Association is proposing a salary increase of 18.3% over the course of the 3-year contract, with a cost of living increase plus a salary step movement equating to 5.57% increase first year, 5.81% increase in year 2 and 3. The union is also requested expanded health care benefits and additional pay for meetings and a reduction of 2 work days.  All I can say is WOW!  I have to believe that TEEA and our School Board are not nearly as far apart as the School Board and union in West Chester.

62 Comments

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  1. School Board………Stand firm on this! The teachers cannot go out in the economy and get a better deal! It is time for them to participate in the economy. The drain of entitlements has start locally or we are going end up like Greece, Spain, Italy, and so forth!

    [Reply]

  2. Ray,
    Can you send an excel file with the current TE matrix and the position of each union member on the matrix?
    Use this email address:efficienteducation@verizon.net

    I’d like to do a costing of the union offer.

    [Reply]

  3. A few comments on Fact Finding:
    .
    Less than a quarter of Fact Finding reports result in a contract.
    http://www.psba.org/issues-advocacy/issues-research/contracts-strikes/act-88-fact-finding.asp
    .
    Last year, UCF’s report was accepted by the Board and rejected by the union. Last month, Kennett’s report was rejected by the Board and accepted (with reservations) by the union. The reports are published here:
    http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/fact-finding_reports/10498
    .
    Note that the union offer above is an “off the record proposal”. It’s a probe, used at times by both sides, to foster dialog to close the gap. However, the formal, “on the table” proposal of both sides is what will be presented to the Fact Finder.
    .
    My opinion is that the Fact Finding process fosters extreme positions. The Fact Finder typically comes down somewhere near the middle. An extreme position moves the middle further to your side.

    [Reply]

    TE Teacher & Taxpayer Reply:

    In response to this….Note that the union offer above is an “off the record proposal”.

    The last two meetings have been off the record meetings, and the proposals from both sides have been off the record. I know it doesn’t change your point…just wanted to add that info.

    I was really disappointed to hear that this latest meeting went so poorly after there had been so much positive momentum built after the previous meeting and the MOU.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I am a broken record…but maybe someone on the teams will listen…IF we admit that the “defined benefit” pension system is inherently flawed, and that we need to switch to “defined contributions”..,WHY is every offer about how / what percentage of cost sharing should apply to a defined benefit health care? WE…and I mean taxpayers…must encourage teachers and board members to accept what we all have–a reasonably designed and priced array of benefit options (a cafeteria plan of sorts) where our district makes a defined contribution per employee to be used for the plans they choose, bearing the responsibility for the additional costs of coverage beyond the negotiated contribution. Teachers keep decent benefits more in line with the rest of the community, and continue to count on a very comfortable pension at 2.5 percent accruing for each year they teach. The salary schedule should freeze where it is, and once teachers reach the final step, they should not get a raise except for aa possible COLA every 4 years. Those at the final step –“career earnings” will continue to accrue additional annual percentages toward the possible full salary (40 years…65) at retirement, free of PA taxes and eligible for PSEA health care programs to support Medicare benefits. They will also be eligible to receive Social Security and the heartfelt appreciation of multiple generations of kids…with a sabbatical or 2 thrown in for rest and recuperation.

    Please friends — this is not zero sum. This is win win. I didm3 of these contracts…it’s easy to be fair AND to be wise.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Bad typing…
    I did 3 of these contracts…

    [Reply]

  4. The T/E School Board has issued the following statement:

    Negotiations Update: Summer 2012
    The Tredyffrin/Easttown School District has been negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, or contract, with the Tredyffrin/Easttown Education Association (TEEA) since January 2012. Despite the T/E School District’s desire to negotiate a contract with the TEEA, a new contract is not in place due to substantial differences in bargaining positions. The T/E School District is committed to creating a compensation package which is reflective of the unprecedented economic challenges facing the T/E School District community and which allows for student success and fiscal sustainability now and in the future.

    With contract negotiations between the T/E School District and the TEEA at an impasse, the TEEA unilaterally requested fact finding on June 19, 2012. As such, a neutral third party known as a fact finder, who is assigned by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB), will examine both parties’ proposals and make recommendations based on the proposals.

    [Reply]

  5. All non binding and all paid for by taxpayers I presume. “Fact finding” is the reason both groups keep their positions so far apart. Non binding arbitration is next?

    [Reply]

  6. Broken record

    No worries, I like the tune.

    We are all witnessing gut wrenching economic readjustment the world over.

    The compensation methods in place for school employees have allowed them to be immune to the financial implications of the dreadful economic reality members of this community have been dealing with for awhile. The proposal put forth by the board is not only reasonable, it is generous. Many taxpayers in the private sector have experienced 20% to 30% cuts in their pay, increased contributions to their health care plan and the constant worry that their job will be eliminated. A public sector employee could not enter the private sector and enjoy the salary and benefits they experience, even with the reductions proposed by the board.

    [Reply]

    Lilibet Reply:

    New post-er

    Many of us have been saying this in public and in private for some time. I seriously doubt the SB or the teachers will agree. The SB will do what they’ve done for the recent contracts; bend over backwards & give the teachers whatever they want, especially when it comes to healthcare and salary.

    Let’s hope for once the SB stands firm.

    [Reply]

  7. I am disturbed by the only consideration being debated here is the one that compares the poor resident that is having a hard time in he Corporate world. Granted that the economy is a disaster BUT it is my belief that one needs to look at what your tax dollars are buying… namely one of the best education processes in the state if not the country.
    With the absolute distaste for the teachers I say – take your kids to Norristown or Chester and leave our fine district and fine education being offered to our children. Else the education levels will become as bad as the roads in the township……. in need of repair.

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Papadick’s position relies on the premise that there is a positive correlation between spending and academic achievement by saying “look at what your tax dollars are buying… namely one of the best education processes in the state”.
    .
    Haven’t we thoroughly discussed that topic and found that spending is no enabler of academic achievement? Otherwise, wouldn’t Lower Merion’s performance with their per student spending of $29K per student far excel TE’s at $17K?

    [Reply]

    papadick58 Reply:

    For me this is an inane argument Keith. I am nor discussing the effect of tax dollars on education.. What I am discussing is that for the lowest tax rates in the Delaware Valley — look at what is being purchased. Namely one of the best districts in the state.
    When looking at the contract one should only be focused on the value received for the dollars spent. Whining about things like “my husband lost his job or has not received a raise last year – while sad – it has no relevance to the contract negotiations.

    [Reply]

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Papadick,

    In your first sentence you say, “I am nor discussing the effect of tax dollars on education.”
    .
    The in your second sentence you say, “What I am discussing is that for the lowest tax rates in the Delaware Valley — look at what is being purchased. Namely one of the best districts in the state.”
    .
    Are you or are you not discussing the effect of tax dollars (tax rates) on education (one of the best districts in the state)???

    Moral Compass Reply:

    I couldn’t agree more Keith.

    Our Teachers are doing much more with less. I am Sooooo tired of the Corporate world notions and time for our teachers to suffer stance. Last time I checked OUR teachers do NOT receive Stock Options, a company Bonus or a company cell phone, automobile or Gas Card.

    How quickly we forget the Real Estate boom and all of those transfer dollars that poured into our district. Did we sit back during the good times and say ” You know…..we are really doing well here……plus we have one of the highest ranked school districts in the State and Country…..so lets reward our teachers with an increase!” Nope….instead we sat on our hands and didn’t raise taxes, ignored the idea of an EIT while 60% of OUR residents pay it anyway! Why should our dollars fund other Townships or Districts? Now that is a sin.

    I read these posts and see how quickly we forget about all the good our AWARD WINNING SCHOOLS provide us with. Solid property values as well as quality people who transfer into our area and help to strengthen our community as well as our schools. Take a L@@k around people….OUR Grass is pretty darn green……Stop with the misery…..don’t punish others because you are unhappy in your current situation. Maybe it’s time to heed your very own advice.

    Our Teachers deserve what they make. Plain and simple. You may not agree or like it…..but they do. You continue to purchase your $5 latte…that’s okay….right?

    I just shake my head when i read other people posting how “if the teachers do not like the climate they are in, they should just throw their career aside and do something else because the Corporate world simply is not what it used to be.” Sounds like Sour Grapes to me or Misery loves company. It’s time to stop the disrespect and start embracing your Schools and the fine people who have built them while dedicating their careers to our children.

    Maybe all of you unhappy people should of studied to be a teacher and devoted your life to reasonable salaries while having others judge your profession with zero knowledge of what they are talking about. I’m sure every one who takes the time to read these posts feels they deserve to earn a higher salary for what they do. Come on now, be honest. Okay…take a deep breath and come clean. Feel better? I knew you would. Stop the negativity.

    Maybe pass on a round of golf this weekend…spend some time with your Son or Daughter.

    Wake up people……TE just didn’t happen. OUR teachers are our schools. When are you going to stop punishing them for the narrow minder politicians who sit in their office and cut-cut-cut while enjoying a 3% multiplier and fully funded health care benefits while WE the tax payers pickup their tab. Is that okay? What have you done about it? Probably not near as much as you have to our Teachers! Amazing how politicians are immune to the critical judgements you toss OUR teacher’s way with out regard of their accomplishments and hard work.

    Remember…..you get what you pay for. In TE we certainly do not get cheated. Our property values are SOLID while our taxes are reasonable. What would the folks in the Chester Upland School District give to provide their children with opportunity TE extends to our little ones? How many of your children have a smart phone?

    Maybe you forgo a dinner or two out in trade for one of the finest educations the state of Pennsylvania has to offer…..did that register with you? Do you get it? Finest in the state of PENNSYLVANIA! Amazing!

    Put down the designer shoes, perfume or hand bag, just for a month, you can do it! :)

    Time to look in the mirror….when you do take the time to notice all that you have and while your gazing……Please take a look at our grass-pretty darn green! Green Thumb Green!

    [Reply]

    cp Reply:

    Papadick58 – No one has a distaste for our teachers. We simply need their compensation packages to align with the community. The current “promised” salary increases and benefits cannot be sustained any longer without the community giving more or programming and services being cut. The outstanding education in T/E is a joint effort amongst teachers, students, families, community and school administrators, not teachers alone.

    [Reply]

    ValleyForgeLady Reply:

    Papa Dick……………..

    I challenge your thinking that infers that is the money being spent on teacher’s salaries is the key reason that TE schools are highly rated. I submit to you that it is the culture of our community that promotes hard work, family involvement, community service, responsible behavior always that has made the school strong.( This has been a cultural norm since the founding of the Welsh tract here in the 1700s.) The teachers have been entrusted with great pupils from families that are also teaching values that make the schools function. The teachers make a contribution but that price has a limit.

    I see that welfare reform in on the legislative agenda. Looking at the reform for teacher compensation is also essential. All entitlements need to be reformed.

    The gravy train for teachers has to be evaluated NOW!!!!!

    [Reply]

    papadick58 Reply:

    I am amazed – teacher salaries are now a “government entitlement”. Give me a break.
    See my comment above to Keith asking for an objective view of the contract.
    I grant you that social economic levels of the community contribute to the success of the students but I will also suggest that if the parents were such a great influence on their child’s development — why not home school.

    [Reply]

    Monie Reply:

    Papadick58

    RIGHT ON! Couldn’t have said it better myself! Maybe some on this blog should move to Haiti as suggested by another blogger– forget Norristown & Chester–those taxes would still be high for some. Yeh, they should go to Haiti where they can start all over again–but they will continue to complain there too!

    If this board (at the last minute) can transfer “at will” $10 mil from the $30+ million fund balance (originally set aside for future PSERS stabilization) to unknown future expenses in capital projects (for which this money cannot be transferred back) then this district has more money than reasons to use it. . .Teachers stand strong!

    [Reply]

    Township Reader Reply:

    Monie
    YOU are a trouble maker. You are a lightning rod for negative comments against teachers, because you obviously do not get it.

    GET OFF the fund balance. That has nothing to do with the operating budget of this district. If the board uses it irresponsibly, vote them out. But the operating budget — salaries, benefits, costs of doing business — those are funded by revenues. If you want to support teachers, help to educate them on their relative wealth in this community — because it is substantial.

    With your kind of support, the union will break us all….and the phrase “keep a good job or lose a great one” will become a mantra.

    [Reply]

    Monie Reply:

    Township Reader

    Your remark “GET OFF the fund balance”–I hit a fund balance nerve with you, didn’t I? Fund balance is not revenue money? How did it get there in the first place?

    Call me a trouble maker, union rabble rouser, whatever you like–your words are just that–words.

    Let people speak.

    Moral Compass Reply:

    I couldn’t agree more Monie.

    Our Teachers are doing much more with less. I am Sooooo tired of the Corporate world notions and time for our teachers to suffer stance. Last time I checked OUR teachers do NOT receive Stock Options, a company Bonus or a company cell phone, automobile or Gas Card.

    How quickly we forget the Real Estate boom and all of those transfer dollars that poured into our district. Did we sit back during the good times and say ” You know…..we are really doing well here……plus we have one of the highest ranked school districts in the State and Country…..so lets reward our teachers with an increase!” Nope….instead we sat on our hands and didn’t raise taxes, ignored the idea of an EIT while 60% of OUR residents pay it anyway! Why should our dollars fund other Townships or Districts? Now that is a sin.

    I read these posts and see how quickly we forget about all the good our AWARD WINNING SCHOOLS provide us with. Solid property values as well as quality people who transfer into our area and help to strengthen our community as well as our schools. Take a L@@k around people….OUR Grass is pretty darn green……Stop with the misery…..don’t punish others because you are unhappy in your current situation. Maybe it’s time to heed your very own advice.

    Our Teachers deserve what they make. Plain and simple. You may not agree or like it…..but they do. You continue to purchase your $5 latte…that’s okay….right?

    I just shake my head when i read other people posting how “if the teachers do not like the climate they are in, they should just throw their career aside and do something else because the Corporate world simply is not what it used to be.” Sounds like Sour Grapes to me or Misery loves company. It’s time to stop the disrespect and start embracing your Schools and the fine people who have built them while dedicating their careers to our children.

    Maybe all of you unhappy people should of studied to be a teacher and devoted your life to reasonable salaries while having others judge your profession with zero knowledge of what they are talking about. I’m sure every one who takes the time to read these posts feels they deserve to earn a higher salary for what they do. Come on now, be honest. Okay…take a deep breath and come clean. Feel better? I knew you would. Stop the negativity.

    Maybe pass on a round of golf this weekend…spend some time with your Son or Daughter.

    Wake up people……TE just didn’t happen. OUR teachers are our schools. When are you going to stop punishing them for the narrow minder politicians who sit in their office and cut-cut-cut while enjoying a 3% multiplier and fully funded health care benefits while WE the tax payers pickup their tab. Is that okay? What have you done about it? Probably not near as much as you have to our Teachers! Amazing how politicians are immune to the critical judgements you toss OUR teacher’s way with out regard of their accomplishments and hard work.

    Remember…..you get what you pay for. In TE we certainly do not get cheated. Our property values are SOLID while our taxes are reasonable. What would the folks in the Chester Upland School District give to provide their children with opportunity TE extends to our little ones? How many of your children have a smart phone?

    Maybe you forgo a dinner or two out in trade for one of the finest educations the state of Pennsylvania has to offer…..did that register with you? Do you get it? Finest in the state of PENNSYLVANIA! Amazing!

    Put down the designer shoes, perfume or hand bag, just for a month, you can do it! :)

    Time to look in the mirror….when you do take the time to notice all that you have and while your gazing……Please take a look at our grass-pretty darn green! Green Thumb Green!

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    forgo a dinner or two? should we lower our heat by a degree too? THis is really ridiculous and smacks of the Jimmi Carter era of malaise. It would be funny if not ironic that my place a a local restaurant would be taken by a teacher whose salary and benefits I partially pay. Yet I have to forgo a dinner or two? THis may be one of the most backward comments I have read here.

    Sorry, but our great teachers, being so smart and enlightened must see the handwriting on the wall for this contract period. Who knows but maybe for the NEXT contract things will be better and we can let the good times roll again.

    [Reply]

    Township Reader Reply:

    PPD — On behalf of teachers in Chester and Norristown — I’m guessing you think they are not as good as our teachers? Or do you perhaps accept that facilities, programs, materials and community demographics contribute to the overall quality of the education? A teacher can only be as successful as the program and people surrounding him/her.

    [Reply]

  8. I am looking at what my tax dollars are buying. And our school District is one of the best. And I do not have a distaste for the teachers. I respect and appreciate the teachers. I would like to be able to pay them any amount of salary and benefit they ask for. Unfortunately, that’s not how the labor market works. Just because we want to pay them high salaries and give them guaranteed pensions and free health care does not mean we can or should.

    Lilibet
    Let’s give the sb a chance. The tide is turning the way of the taxpayer. Christy in NJ is making major reform to public pensions and benefits in NJ and Walker survived the recall in Wisconsin. San Diego and San Jose voters overwhelmingly approved ballet measures to roll back retirement benefits for future and current employees.

    Papadick58
    School employees salary and benefits are part of the economic equation. They have to be included in on what the rest of the country and other countries are going through.

    [Reply]

  9. I am very discouraged by the public sector millionaires (teachers) lack of willingness to worker harder in challenging economic times.

    I am self employed and this is economic war. So…..I work longer days and deal with economic opportunity if it occurs on weekends. My daughter in college, a Conestoga, graduate does the same.

    When I see that teachers file a grievance to additonal work…I am glad that my daughter is no longer around these people!

    The outraged citizens of Neshamimy in Bucks County have expressed their anger in a manner that is less than civil. However, I think our school board needs to know that the citizenry of this school district is not supporting a open purse and more taxes to support entitled employees.

    The thought that we should be expected to pass the hat for the school district and tax non-profits is repugnant in light of the hours worked and greedy perspective of the collective bargaining participants.

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    yea I hear you VFlady.. I have an increasing level of disdain for these pseudo professionals. Im sick of it and enough is enough… Know what? I bet teacher spots can be filled here in TE FASTER than almost any other community in the state BECAUSE OF THE COMMUNITY. Let the teachers here find other teaching jobs. They may march in lockstep with their union thugs but they won’t be too fast to leave. They want to teach here. Reasons mentioned above, very eloquently.

    [Reply]

    TE Teacher & Taxpayer Reply:

    what makes us pseudo professionals?

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    maybe you are right. pseudo professionals was the wrong moniker. By virtue of their lock step with the union, they are not “professional” at all, based on the definition of “professional”.

    Moral Compass Reply:

    ValleyForgeLady

    Where do you get your facts from? Do you have a seat on the School Board? Sit in on contract discussions? Have a crystal ball?

    Since when have OUR teachers become “These People?”

    How about you close your business and move to another area? When you put your home up for sale I bet the FIRST line of your listing will be Located in the AWARD Winning TE School District.

    Open purse? I love how you post as though your words are facts.

    Last time I checked the BOARD agreed and signed the current contract…..A gun was not involved.

    Our Teachers are highly educated, devoted people with a family just like you. Before you simply dismiss what they do, take the time to educate yourself instead of whining about your long hours because you own and run a business.

    Once again…..heed your own advice…..move on if you are unhappy……..should be easy for you to start over. Heck even a teacher could do that!

    Just so I understand where you are coming from….only individuals who work in the Corporate world or own their own business and work long hours deserve to make a six digit income? How about we send all of our children to a school district that is not even ranked in our state or the United States.

    What college would they attend?

    Wake up or move on!

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    don’t forget your stock options and gas cards. Truly amazing comments here. I am self employed and don’t have stock options or a company gas card. I work to meet payroll every week, and to keep my employees in the game. We dont have guaranteed pensions or elite health care benefits. We just wake up, go to work and do the best we can in a very tough economic environment. No guarantees in life, unless you are a public school teacher.
    SHould have been a teacher.

    School districts in other “poorer” areas with lower school “ratings” are more a function of the economic success of the parents, and the education level of the parents or guardians. Obviously, teachers alone are not making a difference, generally, in the “poorer districts”. THis is a function of larger problems in our society. People move to TE for many reasons, if they can, based on their individual ability to afford living here, and wanting to be a part of a community that has a good standard of living. Including the school district, which is supported by PARENTS who instill in their kids the desire to learn and succeed. This is earned, not given to us here. Teachers want to work here because of US. I agree that if you take Chester teachers and put them here, their results would be the same as they are now vis a vis our schools success. It seems to be the reasons why some schools succeed and some don’t is the socio-economic condition of the community.

    [Reply]

    Had Enough Reply:

    Flyersfan
    Why do you have so much personal animosity towards teachers?? You claim teachers work in TE because of “US”. If you want to state teachers want to work in a great community and for great community members then you should be using the word “THEM” because nobody would want to work for a community where the people have an attitude like yours so don’t include yourself in “US”!! If this sounds personal it is. I know Pattye doesn’t like when commenters go after someone else so I do apologize. But when you make comments like teachers, and you didn’t say union, you said teachers are not professionals then you are making personal attacks. I would love to know how you define professional. When I think of a professional I think of someone who went to school to learn a skill or craft and then applies those skills in the workplace. I think o doctors, lawyers, teachers, plumbers, electricians, and any other PROFESSION where people learn a skill or trade. Teachers are not fools. They realize that times are tough and are filling to do their fair share to come to a MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL AGREEMENT. This contract was supposed to align TE teachers with the salaries of other districts in the area that had been paying more than TE for years. What the timing bad…yes! But when you say the gravy train has to end, the train never really got rolling.

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    no animosity. I stopped reading after that. Everything else you wrote was after your first premise, which was wrong.

    My kids went through the school system. They did great. There were some teachers who to this day my kids keep in touch with, and/or speak very fondly of, whether it was sparking interest in learning, or creating a role model that they attached to. There is absolutely no animosity towards anyone. But I would tell these very same excellent teachers face to face, respectfully, how I feel about these negotiations.

    it is business. Nothing more. No hard feelings. By the way, some teachers I wouldn’t give a nickel for, some i would give a million bucks. But that is beside the point. No animosity.

    Professionals make decisions based on their knowledge and experience, usually in an area of expertise that is unfamiliar to the general public. You won’t find me doing a cardiac cath anytime soon. And I won’t teach physics, nor kindergarten. Unionization in my opinion diminishes the “professionalism” title.. yes, even pro athletes I include. here

    If your professionalism is valued, why do you need a self centered union? To protect against unscrupulous school boards? Welll maybe. But they loose some luster over their profession when the union says.. uh oh.. no online learning..

    or no extra time for students past the 7 hours or whatever/./ If Im a teacher, I wouldn’t be able to live with the edicts from the union.. thugs..who is controlling whom here? Looks like the teachers are the students, and the union is the teacher. Great.

    MD Reply:

    Hold on. Please present your evidence that TE teachers are not well compensated versus teachers from other districts.

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    Had Enough,
    .
    I’m curious. How did you decide which districts you would like to align with? Are they in a specific geographical area? Are they the highest performing districts? Or they any district that pays more?

    Had Enough Reply:

    MD
    If you look at the contracts signed in Phoenixville and Radnor prior to the current/expiring TE contract you will see they compensated much greater for advanced studies than TE from 2004-2008. I tried to find the last contract online but couldn’t. And before any prior or current board members chime in, I am only talking about salary. I know the whole package has to be taken into account but I don’t have time to read the entire contract, it seems some of you do though. Salary is what stands out and what districts compare.

    Flyersfan
    Your response to my post makes me feel better about where you stand. I agree that there needs be changes about how teachers are evaluated and compensated. The reason why unions are needed is protect against administrators that are biased or not qualified to give an evaluation. There are many great administrators and there are many poor ones. Much like the teachers you speak of. If the teacher evaluation process is going to be overhauled, then the training administrators receive in evaluating a teacher’s performance must be examined as well.

    Township Reader Reply:

    Had
    The last contract aligned TE — which is why it was unaffordable.
    And that aligning with other districts is officially BS going forward. The PSEA’s annual meeting of union leaders in Hershey cherry picks contract data from neighboring districts and that becomes the talking point. You don’t hear our district complaining about our educational programs, or our mentoring programs, or our work day, but you do hear them say they could make more someplace else.
    Well — in those places, their teachers complain about other details — whatever PSEA has identified for that local. So don’t tell me about “salary” vs. the whole package. The PSEA goal for negotiations the last time around was for a starting salary of $50K. TE was one of the few districts that gave that up — in year 4 of the contract for a starting Bachelor’s degree.

    And please do take the time to read other district contracts. There you will find that many districts pay far less towards advanced degrees. So if they don’t buy the credits, they pay you more when you achieve them. TEEA has chosen to get the education reimbursed.

    But again, no one wants to deal with this — but nothing needs to be about salary. IF WE CHANGE the health care plan — just change it to something that has deductibles and copays, we could ignore the salary issue. The savings that could come just from a health insurance plan, not free health care benefits, we could fix the budget issues and protect not just the program, but the class sizes and the quality of new hires.

    I have written this specifically to teachers on this site many times. Not in your talking points is it? Wearing out the blog with personal pain about how you are not respected and how you are the reason we are all wonderful. YOU were hired by US. We don’t have to hire good people, but we have a process in place that identifies and recruits. We have staff development programs. We pay for advanced education. We compensate you for mentoring. We have a New Teacher Academy each summer. We have workshops and personal programs for assessment.

    If they pay more elsewhere, that is your choice to go there. But I assume that most teachers here teach their whole career here because this is a good place to work. Teaching in an award winning program means you are surrounded by motivated and qualified peers and students. It means you have parent support for high standards. This anti-teacher rhetoric that comes here and elsewhere comes directly in response to the whining about not being treated well.

    And Monie — when I say get off the fund balance, not only do you not hit a nerve with me, you just confirm that you continue to be clueless about how government accounting and funding happens. Two years ago there was a $15M bond — and nothing was built. There was a capital stimulus plan. And nothing was bought.
    Our teachers did get significant raises in the past contract. So sit on the fund balance issue if you want, but it solves nothing. Revnues pay for expenses. Revenues are maxed out by law. We can all hope and pray that transfer taxes grow again, but they aren’t stable revenue sources, so until they grow and stabilize, they will add to the fund balance but they will not be part of the budgetary process. Do you get that?

    Had Enough Reply:

    Keith
    I tried to find districts geographically and performance based that TE is compared usually compared to. I tried to find UCF but had no success. Perhaps you may have more info due to your position. Typically, and if I am wrong correct me, but TE is usually compared geographically to neighboring districts such as Phoenixville, Great Valley, and Radnor, and Performance to Radnor, Lower Merion, Great Valley, and UCF. I was not going for the highest paid or I would have gone with the ridiculous contract in Neshaminy.

    Keith Knauss Reply:

    TR,
    .
    I know you are supportive of changing the health care plan. If I remember correctly, you’d like to see a cafeteria plan where the District contributes a fixed dollar figure to be directed by the employee. In TE’s offer they are addressing the high cost of health care benefits in a different way – they offer single coverage only.
    .
    Another strategy being used by other districts (Souderton has this in their recently approved contract and West Chester is proposing this) to rein in costs is to eliminate the matrix columns past the Masters level. The M+15, M+30, M+45 and M+60 columns disappear. There is no or limited tuition reimbursement for credits past the masters level. Employees currently in those columns are grandfathered in. This is consistent with the research findings that extra credits do not correlate with better teaching.

  10. Not much more to say — Papadick is married to a teacher and is defending her as if she has been wounded. Any teacher who reads about the public backlash against higher wages and takes that personally is just missing the point.
    No one objects to someone being paid fairly. We can say it as many ways as we can, and if you want to be hurt by it and consider it anti-teacher, that is your choice. Here’s the deal: teachers make a good wage in today’s economy. They have virtually no risk to their paycheck. And when they retire, they have what can only be described as a Jaguar pension plan. I will say again — if you go to our top step, with just a masters’ degree, and teach 30 years…you will get an annual lifetime pension of $71,700. IF you bought an annuity to try to generate that amount, it would cost you a minimum of $2.4M. (That’s with a presumption of 3%, which good luck).
    Now PPD, you say that teachers put away 7.5% a year to contribute to that. Are you kidding yourself that 7.5% a year for 30 years would come close to generating that kind of pension? (Because the 7.5% comes off the early year earnings — where as the pension is only based on the highest 3 years of earnings).

    SO — this is not about anti-teacher rhetoric. This is about economics. Teachers don’t get everything today, but they get way more than anyone out here can fathom for the rest of their lives. The state and the taxpayers see to it that they don’t need to save for retirement — and the state doesn’t even tax their pension when they retire.

    And health care: They pay 1,000 a year towards a plan that costs $20K a year and has no limit on the price for next year and beyond. If they want extraordinary benefits, please allow us to give them a contribution towards it, and not simply subsidize their health care.

    HOW is that anti-teacher?

    [Reply]

    Monie Reply:

    Township Reader

    The growth of the fund balance is the result of over budgeting and over taxing–Do YOU get that?

    [Reply]

    a concerned citizen Reply:

    For a point of clarification, what is “over-budgeting” ?

    Ironic that you claim “over-taxing” – isn’t it you who suggests that all the local taxpayers forgo a few dinners and pay more taxes to pay the teachers more money ? (which ironically is not an option since the tax increase is capped by the state).

    All this “over-taxing” resulted in generous salaries and benefits over the last contract. Are you conceding they’ve been overpaid? Then you should agree the contract needs to be re-aligned with the economic realities now, right? This would ‘correct’ the past contract which may have been too generous.

    Yet, you claim that the teachers deserve more money and better benefits (which is what the union is proposing).

    I don’t understand your point. thanks.

    [Reply]

    Township Reader Reply:

    I get that you don’t understand finance or government accounting. We can just agree on that.

    [Reply]

  11. Let’s be honest, there’s not going to be a new contract for years here. I know many of you want to be constructive in saying that the teachers need to concede a lot, and I’m sure they’re going to. But when many of you throw in the comments like “union thugs” and “greedy” and make comments that they are basically caretakers for kids who are already great (let’s make sure to pat ourselves on our backs for raising them of course) then it’s not surprising that the teachers then take the course of saying let’s just stay status quo. If you throw your lot in with those that really do despise the teachers and their contract then you have to expect to be seen that way. From their perspective, we are one of the wealthiest districts in the state with one of the lowest tax burdens in the state who balk at paying, on average, $100 to $200 more per year but demand thousands back from them, and the right to fire them/demote them at will. The “shared sacrifice” doesn’t seem as shared from that view. I know many of you want teachers to experience the same angst we feel in the private sector in terms of job security, but that’s not going to happen ont he turn of a dime – it’s going to be years and decades before we get there and you can make a good argument that we may never want to get there. If we’re really committed to a signficant rollback of total teacher compensation, while not making concessions on our part (i.e. taxes), then we should just sit back for the long term because we won’t have a new contract for years. Let the namecalling begin, er, continue.

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    TE.. a thug is a thug. But the problem is we are where we are because of the largesse given away by the state reps who created this retirement boondoggle. Lets face it, you can say how rich we are and how great the teachers are, but the richness is diminishing and there are great teachers and not so great teachers throughout the state. We have had good stewardship of our tax payout and to now say well we have had it good and now we have to maybe pay a bit more becaues we are rich and have great teachers indicates to me you spent too much time in philosophy class and not enough in economics… which is another thread altogether.

    [Reply]

    MD Reply:

    Well, they hit us with the max amount of property increase that they could during a time when the prop values have seriously decreased. The union says we should have a sunny, optimistic view of the economy. Remember that strategy?

    Let them delay. They can only do it for so long.

    As for the pensions, that is a political problem and won’t be resolved until most state reps and senators fear for their jobs. We aren’t there yet.

    [Reply]

    MD Reply:

    “years and decades”. Sorry, reality dictates that the pain is going to be felt now. There is no other option.

    [Reply]

    Township Reader Reply:

    TE Observer: I want to comment on this part of your post:
    ” From their perspective, we are one of the wealthiest districts in the state with one of the lowest tax burdens in the state who balk at paying, on average, $100 to $200 more per year but demand thousands back from them, and the right to fire them/demote them at will. The “shared sacrifice” doesn’t seem as shared from that view. ”

    THIS is why many of us cringe because you still don’t get it. We have legal limits on the taxes we may impose. This year, we are not just maxing the limit, we are applying for exceptions that in a moral world we have no right to receive — because the district has escrowed fund balance for the PSERS spike.

    So — the only way to preserve the program (the things Kevin mentioned) is to reduce the cost of the labor. We can do that by cutting people and increasing class size, or we can demote (which is now off the table).
    WHY is there such blind resistance to the idea that changing health care plans does not mean you are giving back? I can get $4M out of the current spending budget with just a change in programs that means that everyone gets a decent benefit plan and even a great one if they only want single, but if they want family, they have to accept deductibles and higher co-pays. WHY does that constitute “giving back” when in fact we have a terribly poor vision of what health benefits are. IF PSEA was worth anything, they would be taking this on as a mission — to negotiate state-wide plans at efficient costs that teachers could either enroll in or would be available to districts the same way other plans have been in the past through consortium shopping.

    The only way the union goes status quo is if the senior teachers take it all for themselves…..because status quo benefits ONLY those past step 10. So don’t talk about caring about teachers. This is about taking care of yourselves. And with the pension benefit waiting for you, it is not just economically self-serving to trash the district with demands, it is “thug” behavior.

    And you can presume that TE has the best teachers — because we paid a boatload to educate them. And we have programs to pay teachers to mentor each other. And we have a staff development program, and a new teacher academy, and EDRs for department chairs, and fewer classes taught for team leaders. But say good-bye to ALL OF THAT if we cannot reduce the cost of labor. Now tell me who is creating problems?

    [Reply]

    Township Reader Reply:

    TE Observer:/Teacher

    One comment about your claiming we think teachers are caretakers. You absolutely aren’t. And shouldn’t be. But classroom management is part of your job.

    NOW — why don’t you go visit a few other classrooms and see the differences kids see? I have said it for a long time — good teachers are like good parents. They haven’t a clue how BAD the bad teachers are….and how BAD the bad parents are. The kids know. So don’t pay yourself on the back too quickly — if you are a good teacher, you deserve every penny and more. But if you are not, and are hanging on because you have tenure and a pension coming, then you will understand what the term “lowest common denominator” is…

    [Reply]

  12. A good, spirited discussion. As a sign that the times have indeed changed the debate is now over how much the teachers will have to give back.

    The pension is not an easy fix. As I learned through this process, that has to be resolved in Harrisburg. Therefore, the board has to take draconian measures for sustainability reasons and must look to other areas.

    I do believe we have good teachers. However, I don’t think our teachers are “better” than teachers in other, lesser ranked school districts. That has to do with other socioeconomic factors that have nothing to do with the teachers.

    I never thought the teachers would have to give back salary but that seems to be the case. The arbitration will result in nothing.

    This is happening everywhere. The bills have come due. That is the reality and it won’t change.

    [Reply]

  13. Yes, teachers matter. Good teachers deserve a lot of credit for the success of the district. But teachers are only one of many factors. The following are also improtant:

    1) Parents who care, set a good example and establish high expectations for their kids,

    2) Hard-working, motivated students,

    3) Skilled administrators,

    4) Pro-education school boards who are willing (among other things) to spend the money necessary to support a quality program,

    5) Voters and taxpayers willing to elect and re-elect pro-education boards.

    #4 and #5 are responsible for such secondary factors as reasonable class size, excellent facilities, access to a rich and diverse curriculum as well as sports and extra-curricular activites, and acess to mental health, counseling and other services, all of which have contributed to the success of the district.

    Now, if we can’t get an affordable contract, it will in time take away from what I have termed “secondary factors” above. So it is not as simple as saying “look what your tax dollars are buying” when referring only to teacher pay and benefits. Our tax dollars are buying all of the above, and good teachers are only one part of the equation. Both sides of the equation need to balance in order to preserve the program, and in the current economic circumstances, that requires an affordable contract. I don’t think saying that is in any way “anti” teacher.

    [Reply]

  14. And there you have it, a post doubling down on the initial calling of teachers as “thugs” and another post doubling down on the idea that teachers do not matter when it comes to student success. We’ll have a chance to prove these out over the next few years. It’s certainly our money and while we, relative to our home prices, haven’t paid more in taxes than we did a decade ago (earlier poster detailed that), have the final say as to what we want to spend, we also had that final say for the past ten years when we gave the teachers their current contract. I’m pretty sure everyone involved knows the teachers will end up giving back something (benefits, salaries, both) but we’re pretty much guaranteed that it will be a long time coming, and not a pleasant experience, when we continue to villify and marginalize teachers as many here seem to be so quick to do. Decorum is often the first thing to go.

    [Reply]

    MD Reply:

    No one is saying they don’t matter at all. However, I would venture that if we switched our teachers to, say, Ridley’s school district, we would still get the same results on both sides. That is conjecture I concede. To the defenders of teachers here, I am sorry.

    Also TE obeserver – we most definitely are paying more taxes now relative to our home values which have declined quite a bit over the last 2 years. I bought 7.5 years ago and, today, my home is worth 10% less than what I bought it for yet my taxes have risen every year. I pay enough. Feel free to pay more voluntarily.

    [Reply]

    Tredyffrin Resident Reply:

    Good point. I would agree that if you switched the T/E teachers with the Ridley teachers, you most likely would maintain the current results.

    [Reply]

    MD Reply:

    Also, I believe the individual called the union thugs, not the teachers. At times the behavior of the union has been questionable to say the least. It was apparent that the initial strategy was going to be the tried and true, “we will hold the parents over a barrell and at the last minute get what we want” wasn’t going to work. They have been more pliable since then. However, they are the ultimate in hypocrites. They talk about transparency and then make off the record proposals. Walk the talk or shut up.

    The union thinks last about the children and first about their pockets. They try to use the children as emotional pawns. It is disgusting.

    [Reply]

    flyersfan Reply:

    yes,. the union, NOT the teachers. Wish they could control some of the negotiations. But thuggery is bigger than any economical or moral compass the teachers would provide.

    [Reply]

  15. The first thing to go, Observer, is the truth.

    The Great Recession dropped the median wealth of American families by 39% according to a new Federal Reserve Study.

    The decline in income was widespread but most pronounced among more highly educated families and families headed by persons less than 55 years old. Business equity and housing values were the key drivers in the drops.

    This comes from the Feds Survey of Consumer Finance, an extensive analysis of the financial situation of U.S families. It is conducted every three years.

    It fills in details to a picture we already knew was quite ugly, and these details underscore that, Jared Bernstein, An economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who served as an advisor to V.P. Biden, told the NYTimes. It makes clear how devastating this has been to the middle class.

    [Reply]

  16. Great discussion! I hope that Rep. Kampf and the School Board are aware of these discussions!

    We are too close to Valley Forge not to participate in expressing concerns for what is happening in our community.

    [Reply]

  17. The thread has drifted into ad hominen reasoning.

    We are all, including the teachers, participants in the global economy, rendering provincial perspectives simply implausible.

    [Reply]

  18. KK,

    Were you able to ‘run’ the numbers of the teachers’ salary proposal with the matrix?

    I’d like to know how outrageous their demands are. Don’t forget to adjust for attrition. If my memory serves me correctly, the average number of teachers who leave/retire runs between 15 and 20 per year. That would save between $750,000 and ONE MILLION dollars per year. And, those numbers don’t include the lower pension, social security, and possible healthcare savings (family vs single) from hiring a new teacher at the first step.

    [Reply]

  19. Yes, I have run the numbers and I’ll probably give them to Pattye later today.
    .
    Your attrition estimate of $750K to $1M is too high for a number of reasons.
    1) Not all the teachers that leave are on the top step
    2) The teachers that are hired are not all bachelors level step one. Some position require a masters degree. New hires from another district with experience will start above step one.
    3) Retirees typically have lower health care costs. Their children are gone and they have single coverage or single plus spouse. New hires typically have or will soon start a family.
    .
    Attrition savings at UCF is typically 1% of salaries. That would equate to about $370K per year for TE. The real number, of course, would have to come from the administration based on an average of several years of actual experience. I’m sure the union has that number, too.

    [Reply]

  20. KK
    I am in favor of a defined contribution for the same reason that the pension system is a problem. Offering single coverage might initially save money, but it in no way controls costs. To use an analogu: right now every employee has the health equivalent do a company car — in this case, the car is a Jaguar. What I propose is we switch to a Chevy…still drives just has a different cost profile. The defined contribution is a health care allowance…and employees make the decision how to spend that co,ponent of their compensation instead of considering it a pure benefit.

    As to the dropping of the M+ options….that is a long road and ultimately a disincentive that I would not advocate…though reducing the options has been a process over the past 15 years. There used to be a “Masters Equivalence” column, and many districts had (some may still have) B+ columns and even more M+ columns. Adding columns smooths out the educational bumps…kind of like adding steps.

    Good comments. Appreciate the exchange, especially since you are using information, not hyperbole. Post-er — very much appreciate your articulate economic analysis.

    [Reply]

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