Neshaminy School Board Offers New Contract Proposal; Teachers Call It An 'Insult'
Members of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers left the barging tables only minutes after the session had begun.
A mere hours before talks were set to begin, the Neshaminy School Board revealed its newest contract proposal to members of the press. Board members were hopeful they could engage in meaningful talks with the district’s teachers union.
The negotiation session started at 6 p.m. Monday and just minutes later, it was over. An attorney for the teacher’s union said the proposal "insulted every teacher."
"This session was another demonstration of the board’s plan to avoid, at all costs, good faith negotiations," President of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers [NFT] Louise Boyd said in a statement.
The NFT, which approved a strike order last month, refused to schedule additional meetings dates with the district’s negotiating team after Monday’s proposal.
The Board’s proposed contract would run from the 2011-2012 school year through the 2013-2014 school year, and not include retroactive pay for the three years the teachers have been without a contract, which meant no annual pay raises.
In the new proposal, the district’s teachers would have a 1 to 3 percent annual pay raise going forth.
Another issue the board’s proposal featured was financial contributions that teachers would have to pay for health care coverage.
Board member William O'Connor called the teacher’s current health care plan the "Rolls-Royce of Rolls-Royces."
The proposed plan would have teachers pick from three different plans that featured less of a financial strain on the district.
Teachers would have to contribute 20 percent towards the their premium cost for dental, prescription and vision insurance, according to the proposed contract.
"This [change to teacher’s health-care coverage] could save the district a couple of million dollars and up to as much as $5 or $6 million," school board President Richie Webb said.
Also laid out in the new contract proposal, the required work day would go from seven hours to eight hours a day. A teacher’s 188.5-day work year would increase by two days.
Teachers would also be contractually required to perform certain duties. The proposal stems from recent issues where contract-less teachers have skipped school events like Back-to-School Night. Many teachers also refused to write students letters of recommendation, as a sign of protest, citing they were not contractually obligated to do so.
The contract proposal featured input from community members via the Neshaminy Contract Advisory Committee. Committee members, who requested to remain anonymous, said the district should get rid of their one-time $27,500 early retirement payout. The early retirement package offered former teacher’s free insurance coverage for them, their spouse and their dependents until the age of 65, according to Webb. Board members William O’Connor added the program cost the district about $3.4 million a year and they just can’t afford that.
The proposal gets rid of the districts master's equivalency program as well. If teacher wants a pay raise due to extra schooling they would need to have a master’s degree, rather than master's equivalent.
The board members all agreed that they goal was to not to punish teachers, but help keep money going into the education of the the district’s students.