Come Thursday, April 26, members of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers will be given the chance to change their current leadership for the next two years or continue onward with Louise Boyd as their president.
Running against Boyd is Chuck Deal, who teaches various business courses at Neshaminy High School.
This won't be Deal's first time running for a leadership position within the NFT. He ran for a vice president position in their last elections two years ago, but failed to get elected.
"I felt that there were some things that could be done differently or better," Deal said of his decision to run for VP two years ago, adding that he though had he been elected he might have been able to "influence the way things were being done back then."
His potential influence, he said, would have come from his 26 years of experience in the private industry doing sales and marketing for AT&T. Deal said that part of his time in the private industry was spent negotiating contracts, which AT&T trained him to do.
"I think it’s time for a change from top to bottom," Deal said of his decision to run for president.
"I believe that I can negotiation a fair reasonable contract with the Neshaminy School District," he stated.
Boyd, who is in her 10th year as union president, also said that if she is re-elected that her main goal is to get a "fair contract for the membership."
"When these negotiations started, I made a commitment to the members that I would see it it through," she said, adding that her goal is to also continue to work with and for the union members.
Though Deal's top priority would be to settle the current contract impasse, if he is elected he said that he would like to "restore some unity within the teaching staff," which he said is split right now.
Deal also wants to do some healing with the community.
"It’s been a very contentious couple of years," he said, continuing that Neshaminy really needs to "get the community to view teachers differently than they do now."
"We’re not the enemy," is the message Deal would want to spread through the community about teachers.
Ritchie Webb Weighs In
School board President Ritchie Webb stressed that a "change in direction would be good for the NFT" and that, not just the school board, but "everyone would benefit" from new union leadership.
"I don’t believe that the current leaders, the current negotiators, have a true understanding of the what the district is up against," Webb stated.
According to Webb, "someone that would have more of a business understanding would be a plus" for the NFT.
"I don’t think Louise understands the district’s financial situations," Webb said, adding that he would rather negotiate with someone else.
"She thinks that district should borrow money, raise taxes and give the NFT everything they want," he continued.
"Hopefully we could find someone that would be more realistic."
Is Change a Good Thing?
Deal echoed some of Webb's statements in that new union leadership would be beneficial in ending the impasse.
He said that he believes that the union leadership has worked hard and has spent a lot of time working for union causes in the district, but they have not been successful.
"I think we need different people with different views, different perspectives in order to achieve a new contract," he said.
Deal also said that he does not see the impasse as an "insolvable problem."
"Given a game change with new players, that the board will sit down and negotiate with a new team," he stated.
However, Boyd does not think that new union leadership is the key to solving the contract impasse.
"My feeling is that the way to end this end this contract impasse is to really negotiate," she said.
"The only way to end this impasse is for the school board to actually want to settle it," Boyd stating, reiterating that the union has moved toward the middle several times.
Here is a complete list of NFT members running for leadership positions, which was provided to Patch by former school board member William O'Connor:
Vice President (five to be elected):