There was a milestone agreement between the T/E teachers and the school district last night. I am not sure whether we call the TEEA-TESD agreement a salary ‘freeze’ or a ‘pay waiver’ but, . . . if both sides are happy, does it really matter what we call it?
The school board members presented the details of the new teacher union offer. The offer from Tredyffrin Easttown Education Association (TEEA) was read and the discussion opened for public questions. The board voted on the proposal and the agreement won unanimous support from the school board.
To read a copy of the TEEA-TESD agreement, click here. If I understand the agreement, here are the important points:
- The teachers will have their salaries frozen for the first 6 months of the 2011-12 school year based on their final paycheck of the 2010-11 school year.
- For the second 6 months of the 2011-12 school year, the teachers salaries will ‘unfreeze’ and they will advance.
- With this agreement, the T/E school district agrees there will be no involuntary furloughing or involuntary demotion of teachers for 2011-12.
- This agreement is a one-time cost savings for the 2011-12 school year only and is not precedent setting. The agreement does not extend the current contract and negotiations for the next contract will be on schedule.
I asked Pete DePiano, union president of TEEA for his thoughts on the TEEA-TESD agreement. He writes,
“I am so proud of the membership of TEEA for stepping up with this offer during these difficult times. Likewise, I am happy that the Board was able to accept. A special note of gratitude must be extended to Mrs. Cruickshank, for we were in constant communication behind the scenes for a VERY long time working on this – even prior to the Corbett announcement. It was that continued line of open dialogue that made this all possible. We are looking forward to a wonderful conclusion of the school year as we continue to serve the greatest students in the greatest district in the Commonwealth of PA.”
Ray Clarke attended last night’s school board meeting and at my request kindly shares his thoughts below.
Re the Earned Income Tax Study Group, I want to personally thank Kevin Mahoney for suggesting that the group members be apolitical. The school board members made it clear that no one from the school board would be on the study group and I applaud their efforts in making the selection process open and transparent!
Important developments at tonight’s School Board meeting
- The Board voted to accept an offer from the TEEA to defer next year’s contracted pay increase for six months with no change to the contract termination date. After six months, salaries will increase to the contracted 2011/12 levels, with step and level movement. There will be no furloughs or demotions during 2011/12, and 2012 retirees will be protected. This is expected to save the District $917,000 in 2011/12. The five year model, which assumes no salary increase in the next contract, claimed that these savings versus the previous projection continue into the out years – although I remain puzzled about that, since the matrix and distribution in place at 6/30/2012 is unchanged under the offer. It may be important to understand expectations on this going into the next contract negotiations.
- The impact on next year’s budget is fairly clear, though. The board approved a budget that has a 3.8% property tax increase and a $2.2 million draw down of the fund balance, with an additional $1.9 million possible in the event of specific contingencies. There was no appetite for an Activity Fee for next year, and very different philosophies from all Board members that spoke. Only Kevin Buraks voted against an amendment to remove it from the preliminary budget. Worth looking at the tape to review the issues.
- The Board defined the process for obtaining citizen input on the pros and cons of an EIT, through a Tax Study Group. They will select 9 residents for the Group based on information to be requested in a May 16th mailing to residents. Work to be completed by October, for a November decision by the Board whether to move the process forward towards an April 2012 referendum. Important difference from the 2006 effort: the group’s role is not to present a recommendation, but to help educate the Board and the public. The Board is looking for representation from across T/E, and wants the group to be apolitical. All meetings to be open to the public; not sure if that’s very conducive to a deep dive into the economics, but maybe that’s not the purpose.
- Per Dr Brake’s legislative report, there seems to be some likelihood that the Legislature will reverse or limit the Governor’s proposed capricious Social Security reimbursement cut, so that may help TESD’s budget (at best, by $1 million). It also seems probable that the local ability to increase taxes beyond the Act 1 limit will not be completely eliminated, retaining at least the possibility of PSERS and special education Exceptions.A final pet peeve: once again this year the gaming rebate was used in the context of an offset to the property tax increase. If the rebate was increasing by $171 that would be true, but in fact it’s just the same ~$180 it has been for every year since 2008/9. At least it wasn’t Dr Waters this time, but rather Dr Brake, who I thought might know better.