NFT 'Frustrated' Over Board's Rejection of Arbitration Report
The Neshaminy Federation of Teachers was "hopeful" that the school board would announce its acceptance of the non-binding arbitration award.
The Neshaminy Federation of Teachers is "frustrated" by the Neshaminy School Board's rejection of the arbitration report Tuesday evening.
According to a NFT-issued press release, the union was apparently hopeful coming into the school board meeting last night that the board would accept the report, but instead witnessed "a vindictive speech by school board President Ritchie Webb, who ridiculed the arbitrator, the arbitration process, state officials, and the NFT before calling for a board vote that resulted in a 9-0 unanimous rejection of the arbitration award."
In his statement Tuesday night, Webb stated that the school board agreeing to the terms of the arbitrator's findings would cause the 2012-2013 budget deficit to "easily exceed $20 million."
The NFT was scheduled to meet Wednesday night to vote to accept or reject the arbitrator's report, however, since the board has already rejected it, voting is "a moot point now as both parties must agree to the findings or the award is null and void."
“I’m rarely lost for words,” NFT president Louise Boyd said in the press release, “but I was nearly speechless when I heard Webb’s rant about the arbitrator, the arbitration process, state officials, and teachers. It was flat out embarrassing. He blamed just about everyone on the planet for the mess they’ve created in this district – except themselves. In effect, he called into question the integrity of the arbitrator, accused the state of disempowering the school board, and blamed the NFT for all of its financial problems.”
Boyd said that the arbitrator's findings were very "middle ground" with neither side coming out a clear winner. However, Webb stated Tuesday evening that the only real "victories" for the district were the expanded work day to 7.5 hours, and a work year of 190.5 days and that "the arbitrator overlooked the needs of our district and instead appeased the NFT" by rejecting the district's proposal for mandatory drug testing, eliminating the equal say clause, or writing letters of recommendations for the students.
“The district won and lost on a lot of points and so did the NFT,” Boyd said. “But to listen to Mr. Webb’s rant last night, one would think that the arbitrator gave the teachers everything we’ve asked for, which is not the case by any stretch."
Boyd also said that Webb's "rant" was the "perfect example" of the district's "take-it-or-leave-it" approach.
"Not even an impartial third party arbitrator can get them to see there are numerous ways to resolve this issue. I guess the ‘Neshaminy Nine’ are committed to a scorched earth policy. Tragically, they’re again moving our whole district a step backwards,” Boyd said.
In the arbitrator's report, NFT Vice President Anne Schmidt said that there are "big concessions" for the union and that the NFT approached the arbitration process "prepared to make tough decisions for the sake of closure and moving forward."
“The board, on the other hand, outright dismissed nearly everything that wasn’t exactly what they wanted. They clearly did not take this process seriously and just don’t seem that interested in finding an end to this impasse,” Schmidt said.
Tuesday night, Webb said that he doesn't have an answer to the question about how long the impasse with the NFT will last, but that the school board "will not give into unaffordable contract demands that will inevitably lead to even more program cuts."
The PDF version of the arbitrator's report is attached under the photo.