Pattye Benson

Community Matters

teacher contract

TE School District and Teachers Sign 3-Year Contract

Based on the agenda for last night’s TE School District Special Meeting, the purpose of the meeting was a Priority Discussion on the fact-finding timeline of the teachers’ contract with summary of the report. It was stated that the Board was unable to publish details contained in the report prior to the Board discussion.

However, we learned upon arrival at the meeting, that the school board and the teachers union had reached a tentative 3-year contract. (The teachers contract expired June 30, 2017.) An overview of the contract negotiation process was presented by the District’s labor attorney Jeffrey Sultank of Fox Rothschild. Specifics of the contract presented by District administrators Art McDonnell, Dr. Gusick and Jeanne Pocalyko.

The school board provided few updates to the public during the contract negotiation process which began in January. In past contract negotiations, the public received regular updates were provided, including the members of the committee. The lack of information (particularly after the teachers contract expired on June 30) added to an already stressful situation with the teachers mounting their own PR campaign the last couple of months.

Below are the five slides that accompanied the fact-finding/teacher contract presentation. Although the fact-finding report and the teachers’ contract are not yet on the District website, the update should happen shortly. Following the slides, Ray Clarke provides a few specifics from the contract.

The school board unanimously approved the new 3-year contract.


From Ray Clarke:

The Administration presented a lot of numbers showing the expected impact of most of the components of the agreement, but there was no integrated summary of how all added up to the stated 1.7% per year increase to the total expense budget.

– Somehow this increase is equal to 47% of the revenue expected from increases in the Act1 Index of about 2.5% per year. (Despite a question, I’m still not sure how these numbers reconcile – part of the problem of not having an integrated summary).

– Salary increases aggregate to 10% over the three years, a cost offset to some extent by increases in the employee share of the premium for one of the health plans from 13% to 16% next year and by the implementation of a 6.5% share of the prescription plan premium, also next year. The salary increases come from matrix increases of 0.5% to 1% and from step movement, plus raising the caps on tuition reimbursement and column movement. The top step – always key with 40% of the staff there and earning ~$100,000/year – gets a $1,000 bonus this year, a ~2.5% increase next year and a 1% increase the year after.

– The cost calculations assume the current teacher population moves along the matrix and stays at the top level, no retirements.

– The impact of the extra PSERS and other salary-driven costs was not included

The Union and Board both seemed content with what appears on the surface to be a balanced agreement. It will be important for the Board to remember that the District does not have to raise taxes equal to this or other cost increases. Tonight Tredyffrin Township reported that its assessed base has increased 1.1% in 2017 YTD.

TE School District Taxpayers in the Dark

I received the following press release Sunday morning from a Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) representative.

Tredyffrin/Easttown Education Association (TEEA) to Hold Informational Picket before September 25th School Board Meeting

What: Teachers and educators of the Tredyffrin/Easttown Education Association (TEEA) are holding an Informational Picket before the next School Board meeting to protest their lack of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The CBA expired, June 30, 2017 and both parties met one time over the entire summer. The membership is frustrated by the lack of progress in one of Pennsylvania’s premier school districts. Conestoga High Schools was recently ranked the best high school in all of Pennsylvania.

Who: Hundreds of Teachers, Parents and Educational staff of TESD School District.
Visual Highlights: Teachers will assemble prior to the School Board meeting, holding signs and marching and chanting for a new contract. Community members and families are invited.

When: Monday, September 25, 6:30 p.m. (Assemble) | 7:30 p.m. (meeting)

Where: Conestoga High School (200 Irish Rd, Berwyn, PA 19312)

Statement by TEEA President, Dr. Bob DeSipio:
“Our contract expired on July 1, 2017. Despite multiple offerings to meet with the School Board this summer to continue the negotiations process, we did not meet until the end of August. We want the School Board to know that it is not just the five or six of us on the bargaining team that are upset with the slow pace of these negotiations, but a membership of more than 400 highly educated and highly dedicated educators. We hope tonight’s Board meeting is a demonstration to the District that TEEA is resolute in our dedication to achieve a new agreement and want to reach a fair and competitive settlement as quickly as possible.”

Dr. DeSipio’s statement is confusing and unsettling – although the teachers’ contract expired June 30, 2017, the District held no negotiating meetings during the summer! No contract negotiation meetings between the District and the teachers union “until the end of August”! This makes no sense.

It is impossible for the community “to take a side” in the contract negotiation battle between the school district and the teachers union. Why? Because the taxpayers have received no information from either side about the offers/demands.

The teachers are asking for a “fair and competitive settlement” … wish I knew the offer on the table. The public cannot possibly know what is “fair” without knowing the contents of the offer.

The secret negotiations between the District and the teachers union once again underscore the need for transparency.

Getting the state union officials from PSEA involved, the T/E teachers will show solidarity with signs, marching and chanting on Monday night before the school board meeting. Working without a settled contract is difficult but isn’t this “informational picket” apt to make the contract negotiation situation more contentious?

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.

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