Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Pottsgrove Education Association

Another School District With Salary Freeze & One-Year Extension . . . Is T/E the Only School District Expecting a Pay Increase Waiver?

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association is reporting that roughly 95 school districts out of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts have some type of salary freeze in place.

School districts around the state are working on their 2011-12 budgets; further challenged by the additional public education funding cuts in Gov. Corbett’s proposed budget. Looking around other school districts, the trend is for more and more teachers unions to accept a pay freeze.

This week, we learned that several local teachers unions (Norristown and Pottsgrove School Districts) are accepting salary freezes for 2011-12. In the Pottsgrove district, the teachers voted for a one-year contract extension that does not raise salaries. From the Pottsgrove School District website, , is the following statement:

The Pottsgrove Education Association voted on May 2 to accept a pay freeze by extending its contract for one year in a move that will save the school district $515,000. The current three-year contract was set to expire August 31, 2011. The Pottsgrove School Board of Education will approve the freeze and extension at its next meeting. In exchange for the freeze, the administration and board have agreed not to furlough or demote any additional teachers for the duration of the one-year contract extension. During the term of the one-year contract extension and freeze, other terms of the contract will remain in place.

Isn’t this salary freeze offer from the Pottsgrove teachers union exactly the same offer that the T/E teachers union (TEEA) gave to the T/E School District? The Pottsgrove teachers are working under an existing contract (the same as T/E teachers) and the contract will be ‘frozen’ and extended an additional year. Pottsgrove teachers will not somehow make up for the salary freeze in the extended year; their salaries remain ‘frozen’ at the same current level. Seems simple enough, right?

As I read about teachers offering (and school districts accepting) salary freezes in other school districts, I keep asking myself why should the T/E School District be different. News story after news story and I never see any mention made of the term ‘pay increase waiver’ as used by the T/E School Board. Obviously, there is something that I’m missing . . . why would TESD turn down the estimated $2.5 million salary freeze offer from TEEA?

We see other school districts graciously accepting the teacher union offers of a salary freeze, why not T/E. In some districts, the teachers and the school administrators are accepting salary freezes voluntarily. There seems to be a spirit of working together toward the common goal of helping to solve the public school funding crisis. I want the same for our school district; we are all in this together – the teachers, the school board and the taxpayers.

It is my understanding from the school board members at this week’s Finance Committee meeting that the TEEA offer will cost the district money. How? Is it possible that the T/E School Board knows more about our district teachers [and their motivation for a salary freeze] than these other Pennsylvania school boards do? If a salary freeze and an extension of a teacher’s contract without a salary increase is such a ‘bad deal’, why are so many other school districts accepting these offers?

It doesn’t seem like the ‘salary freeze’ should be such a complicated issue – why can’t the TESD do exactly what the Pottsgrove School District is doing? A one-year salary freeze, reap the financial benefit and then move on to negotiate the next contract?

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