Neshaminy School Board President Ritchie Webb reassured members of the Neshaminy community Monday night that the school district can afford the "Council Rock" proposal offered to the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers.l
A group of Neshaminy parents and taxpayers organized a question and answer session with Webb, the board's attorney Charles Sweet as well as board members Kim Koutsouradis, Mike Morris and Scott Congdon.
Webb started the meeting by reading a statement to the community members in attendance in which he said that the district would see a savings should the NFT accept the proposal.
Later in the meeting, Webb explained that the Council Rock proposal basically takes the "same pot of money and distributes it differently." Teachers across the board would get an increase in base salary immediately upon signing off on this proposal.
The district would also immediately see savings in health care contributions from teachers in addition to a changed health care plan, as opposed to the "Rolls Royce" plan teachers currently have and that retirees would have to pay the same toward health care.
"I think the key has been thinking outside the box," Webb said in response to a question as to why the board chose Council Rock's contract.
"We have tried every angle and, quite frankly, we thought that Council Rock is as good as it gets. So if you offer a quality contract why wouldn’t you take it?," he said.
When asked by a community member what the big sticking points still are between both sides, Webb said that they haven't gotten that far into talks about the proposal and that they haven't gotten into talking about the "big dollars."
The school board's attorney Charles Sweet said that the "biggest financial question" refers to retroactive pay, which is not included in the Council Rock proposal. Although retro pay is not in the contract, Webb said there would be a "tremendous increase" in teachers' salaries.
If the union turns down the proposal, Webb said they would go back to negotiating from the expired contract although he noted that he hopes that is not the case and that he's trying to be optimistic.
"At the moment we really are working with the spirit of cooperation," Webb said in response to a question about whether the board has set a date that they would pull the offer from the table, which he said that have not done yet.
"If we get to the point where it’s getting to be a waste of time, we could pull it," he stated.
This week, Webb said that the NFT has a financial expert meeting with a district financial administrator to go over the numbers of the proposal. Both sides will then meet again Thursday, Sept. 27.