T/E Teachers Union Weighs in on Fact Finder’s Report

Last night I received the following press release from Laura Whittaker, president of teacher union Tredyffrin Easttown Education Association (TEEA).

TEEA Votes to Accept Fact Finder’s Report, Asks for Community Support 

On Monday, August 6, the members of TEEA met to discuss and vote on the Fact Finder’s report. Acting as an independent third party, Fact Finder Mr. Timothy Brown carefully examined all of the issues in dispute as well as the District’s finances and revenue potential. By law, TEEA members were required to accept or reject the report in its entirety, and the membership voted to accept the report.

Under the provisions of the Fact Finder’s report, professional employees would be frozen at the current salary for a year and a half.  Association members also agreed to a choice between two less expensive health care plans as well as increases in premium sharing and prescription costs. The report linked no demotions of professional staff with a reduction in tuition reimbursement during the second year of the agreement, a provision that built upon the previously established Memorandum of Understanding which reduced tuition reimbursement in exchange for no demotions during the first year of the contract. Furthermore, the Fact Finder acknowledged the District’s desire for cost savings by allowing the District, in the second year of the contract, to furlough teachers for up to two full days with a corresponding salary reduction, a provision currently non-existent in any teacher contract in the state of Pennsylvania. TEEA estimates that the furlough days alone would cost TEEA members approximately $500,000 in lost wages.

“We are disappointed by the School Board’s choice to reject the report and stated efforts that they would like to continue bargaining,” TEEA President Laura Whittaker said. “By voting to accept the report, TEEA members have acknowledged the need for shared sacrifice. We believe that the report offers a fair and reasonable contract settlement. We urge members of the public to read the full Fact Finder’s report that is available on our website and ask the community to support acceptance of the Fact Finder’s report in order to reach a contract settlement so that we can all focus on the education of the children of the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District.”  The School Board will take their second vote on the Fact Finder’s report on Monday, August 20 at 8 pm at the Tredyffrin-Easttown Administrative Offices at 940 West Valley Road, Suite 1700 in Wayne.

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  1. How interesting that 2 days of the staff teaching costs $500,000. Oh–those are not teaching days. So two non-student contact days, where the district is not going to require them to teach…not working those days would COST the teachers $500,000. Kind of makes you wonder just how valuable the whole notion of paying professionals by the hour is….so how much do their “personal days” cost taxpayers…means that each sick day in this contract costs $250,000. Can we add those dollars to the cost of the contract? THEN will they understand just how padded this whole contract is? I don’t have an issue with what they make–just what they COST…and how little they count those costs in their own view of their compensation.

    1. And of course, we know that Fact Finder has rendered the furlough idea worth less than the paper it’s written on. The days can only be implemented in half day amounts, and only one per pay period. So if it can be used at all, it would have to impact students rather than be taken on the non-instructional days at the end of the school year. Kids first. Way to go.

      It’s instructive to play with the numbers a little. First a sanity check on the $500,000 number: average teacher wage compensation $85,000 times number of teachers ~450 = aggregate teacher wage compensation $38.25 million, divided by 191 instructional days = aggregate teacher wage compensation per day $200,262. Not far away from the TEEA number of $250,000. Note that all benefits, PSERS entitlement, etc. would continue unabated.

      Continuing: average teacher wage compensation $85,000 divided by 191 school days = average teacher wage compensation per day of $445, divided by say 8 hours a day = average teacher wage compensation per hour of $55.63. Again, before healthcare benefits, sick days, personal days, PSERS, etc. (and also before the individual contributions for some of those).

  2. The TEEA urges, “members of the public to read the full Fact Finder’s report that is available on our website and ask the community to support acceptance of the Fact Finder’s report in order to reach a contract settlement so that we can all focus on the education of the children of the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District.”
    .
    Unfortunately, parents with school age children – the ones that will show up at the Board meeting supporting a settlement on any terms – don’t understand the fallout from accepting the FF’s recommended settlement. The budget must be balanced and the Board has only two “levers” to achieve balance – raise taxes or cut employees. Increasing taxes to the maximum won’t balance the budget; employee cuts will be needed. In the immediate term labor peace is achieved. In the long term teachers are furloughed, programs are eliminated and class sizes rise.

    1. Keith,
      If my mind is clear I seem to remember that Pattye asked you awhile back to comment on what happened in Unionville during their contract negotiations as you are a resident of Unionville and a member of the School Board. Your factual comments were welcomed and provided a basis of comparison and we thank you. However I find it some what disturbing when a School Board member from a foreign district starts to make editorial comments, personal recommendations etc. on matters that do not impact you in any way.

      1. PPD — I disagree. Not only is his commentary useful, but everything that happens here affects his district in countless ways. The PSEA cherry picks contract terms. The TEEA uses other district contracts as comparison to support and justify their demands. And since UCF is in Chester County, it’s hardly a “foreign” district. On my part, thanks Keith.

      2. PapaDick,
        Could you explain why you are comfortable with my factual comments, but disturbed by my editorial comments and personal recommendations? What negative outcome do you envision? Would you be more comfortable if I posted under a pseudonym?

  3. Maybe it really is time to take this out of the hands of the few and put it in the hands of the many.

    Freeze for one more year. Take the terms of the FF report that TEEA wants, put the over-act-1 tax increase on the ballot. Let the public decide. If it passes, then the revenue increases and terms like this can be reality. If it is rejected, then the TEEA gets only what the restricted budget revenue will allow.

    Of course we can speculate what will happen with the vote, but it will eliminate all doubt.

    1. Shire just announced it is planning to leave Chesterbrook and take its 1100 employees and tax revenue with it.

      Does anyone know the net economic impact to the school district’s revenues?

      CJ – we know (no need to speculate) the district tax payers will never approve an over-act-1 tax increase – as too many residents do not currently have children in the schools.

      Under your rationale – should the teachers pick up the tab for the lost Shire revenue?

      1. I knew that Shire was looking around but didn’t know the decision was made. They relocated to Tredyffrin in 2004 and have 1100 employees at the their corporate headquarters in Chesterbrook. Shire leases 4 bldgs and want to consolidate with their own campus instead of spread out as they are now. My understanding is that they are looking to build, did I hear E. Whiteland?

        1. I would think much less of a chance than Act 1 exception. Do you think the EIT could pass here?

          If an EIT did get passed – the teachers should also pay the same EIT (district resident ot not) – so the ‘shared sacrifice’…is actually shared.

        2. It would be a stretch to call it “shared sacrifice”.
          .
          Let’s assume:
          – a 0.5% EIT raises $6.5M as reported by the Tax Study Group
          – half that amount $3.25M goes to increase the compensation of the 436 TESD teachers or $7400 per teacher. (teacher compensation if 50% of TE’s budget)
          – the average locally resident teacher earns $85K and would pay an 0.5% EIT of $425
          .
          The average teachers pays $425, but gets $7,400 in return. I’m not sure this is shared sacrifice.

        3. Many teachers already pay an EIT becuase the townships they reside in (those not in T/E) already have one. In many cases it is a 1% EIT. Why should the teachers have to pay EIT twice?? Do you pay an EIT in the township where you work even though you don’t pay one to your own community? Philadelphia city wage tax is the only tax I can think of where you may double dip.

        4. Keith-

          Your reasoning is either intellectually dishonest…or it’s really, really HONEST. Just tell me if I’m reading you correctly.

          IF I am following your reasoning, “shared sacrifice” would look like this:
          a) TE residents pay 0.5% EIT
          b) teachers pay 0.87% EIT (to cover the $7400)

          Your reasoning would have the teachers paying 17.5X the EIT % district residents would pay. Teacher would then likely go home and pay their own local EIT.

          0.5% of one’s pay – is 0.5% of one’s pay. Just sayin.

        5. CORRECTION:

          IF am following your reasoning, “shared sacrifice” would look like this:
          a) TE residents pay 0.5% EIT
          b) teachers pay 8.7% EIT (to cover the $7400)

        6. John,
          .
          You have good ideas and valid criticism, but you diminish yourself with argumentum ad hominem.
          .
          The term “shared sacrifice” would connote that both parties are giving something up. As explained above, one party is giving something up while the other party is taking what has been given. Thus, the term “shared sacrifice” is only applicable if we narrowly consider the collection of the EIT. If we consider the complete picture, the collection and distribution of the EIT, the term “shared sacrifice” does not apply.

        7. by the way, to assume a 0.5% EIT is unreasonable.

          Both Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships will jump on board if an EIT is approved – to the tune of an additional 0.5% EIT. So the total impact to the taxpayer is a 1.0% EIT with half going to the Township and half going to the schools.

          The Township and the School Board is each hoping the other will push it forward and be the ‘bad guy’.

      2. the prop taxes must still be paid whether shire is tenant or not – – – although the opportunity for the prop owner to lower the assessment exists if the buildings remain vacant… what is the actual revenue loss with shire leaving?

  4. Since we don’t have an income tax, what revenues does Shire generate besides the taxes on the property they lease? If left empty, the landlord can appeal their assessment, but besides the economic benefits of 1100 people working in the area (restaurants etc) what is the specific economic impact?

    1. TR – I think you are correct – the only impact would be the property’s potential reassessment. The loss is the delta between the old and new rates.

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