Pattye Benson

Community Matters

West Chester Schol District

West Chester Teachers Joins 16 Other School Districts to Agree to Salary Freeze Next Year . . . Where are T/E Teachers?

Residents learned last night at the Finance Committee meeting that there is a significant savings to the budget to the tune of $3 million! However, the catch is that the two district unions, the Tredyffrin Easttown Education Association (TEEA) and the Tredyffrin Easttown Non-Instructional Group (TENIG) would need to agree to a pay-freeze waiver for next year – in other words, no salary increases. A parent questioned the contents of an April 6 letter sent from TESD to TEEA and TENIG and asked if the letter could be made public on the TESD website. With further checking, it may be possible that the letter to the unions will be public. Apparently, the letters contained an appeal for a pay-freeze waiver. According to Dr. Waters, there has not yet been a response to the letters.

In West Chester Area School District, the teachers union has decided to follow Gov. Corbett’s suggestion for a wage freeze for next year. At their school board meeting last night, the board ratified the decision (teachers ratified the decision last week) which will help close their budget deficit. The decision to freeze salaries of teachers, administrators and support staff for next year will reflect a cost-savings of $1.4 million.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the decision of the West Chester Area Education Association (WCAEA) may be the first Philadelphia area school district to agree to a one-year, no increase contract. The wage freeze will to help with the school district budget shortfall caused by Gov. Corbett’s proposed funding cuts to public education.

I applaud the members of the WCAEA teachers union for two reasons. One, the teachers understand the seriousness of the school district budget problems, especially in light of the proposed funding cuts and two, for responding proactively by approaching the school board about a salary freeze. WCAEA teacher union president Debbie Fell told the West Chester school board last night, “Members of our union are willing to share in the sacrifices that are required by everyone in the community.” She added, “The teachers overwhelmingly voted for the agreement”.

The proposed state funding cuts is estimated to save a total of $400 million but is causing havoc on school district budgets. Freezing wages can help the school districts from seeking further cuts, so where is the TESD teachers union on the issue of one-year salary freeze? According to the Inquirer article, teachers in at least 16 school districts, besides West Chester, have already agreed to a salary freeze for 2011-12.

The pay-freeze waiver letter from TESD to TEEA and TENIG was sent almost a week ago and as of last night, there has been silence from the union side. Why . . . ?

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