mixed nuts: negotiation update for west chester area school district

Whether you have a kid in the school district or not, if you live within the confines of the West Chester Area School District, you pay.

Within the past couple of days,  mailboxes all over the West Chester area received a mailing from the West Chester Area School District titled “Negotiation Update”. (You can also visit them on the web for further information HERE.)

When you look at the  Board vs. Union Proposal Analysis , the following really stood out:

For the Board’s contract proposal, total spending on teachers’ salaries and healthcare benefits will increase from $86.2 million in 2011-2012 to $93.4 million in 2014-2015. This will increase the District’s costs by $7.2 million. For the WCAEA’s proposal, total spending on teachers’ salaries and healthcare benefits will increase from $86.2 million in 2011-2012 to $107 million in 2014-2015. This will increase the District’s costs by $20.8 million.

So I have to ask West Chester, what are you willing to pay?  This comes out of your pockets, after all.

Of the issues in dispute, as per the mailing, here is some of what you are looking at:

WCASB (West Chester Area School Board) wants as far as Salaries:

 under board proposal, teachers will earn raises totalling 3.82% over first 2 years of 3 year contract or average salary will go from $67,800 to $71,200. In the 3rd year the district will offer a one time bonus of $1500 (+ 2.11%) to each teacher if average increase in combined real estate assessment growth in areas served by district exceeds 2.6% between 2012 and 2014.

What Union wants:

Salary increases of 18.3% over course of 3 year contract (intentional so it will exceed annual increases in healthcare contributions rates on the part of its members.) What union is asking for is that teachers receive both a cost of living increase plus a “salary column” increase or + 5.57% year 1, + 5.81% years 2 and 3.

WCASB (West Chester Area School Board) wants as far as Accountability:

If a teacher receives an unsatisfactory performance evaluation, they will not receive a salary increase the following year.

What Union wants:

The union proposal continues to allow members to receive annual raises without regard to performance evaluation.

WCASB (West Chester Area School Board) wants as far as healthcare:

District funds 90% of medical,dental, prescriptions, and vision year 1, 85% year 2, 80% year 3.  Also moderate (yes moderate) deductibles.

What Union wants:

In a nutshell an expansion of current healthcare benefits.

There are more sticking points having to do with retirement benefits, course reimbursement, work year/professional development time, work time and on-line course work.

I sort of agree with the teachers’ union as far as the on-line course work, because I have a problem with courses in a box…but as per the district when you compare the cost of the two proposals (and I quote from the flyer which was mailed out):

Comparing the Cost of the Two Proposals:

The cost of paying for a new teachers’ contract should be of particular interest to taxpayers, since they fund approximately 85% of the District’s budget.  The chart…indicates the difference between the school board’s proposal and the WCAEA proposal in each of the 3 years:

Year 1 – $4.9 million

Year 2 – $9.4 million

Year 3 – $13.6 million

So in digging around to see what the media is saying I found a blurb on West Chester Patch which says in part:

The following is a press release from the West Chester Area Education Association.

The West Chester Area Education Association (WCAEA) met today with representatives of the West Chester Area School District regarding contract negotiations. While no deal has been finalized, WCAEA President Debbie Fell said the teacher’s union and the school district have agreed to continue talks and have scheduled the next negotiation session for Thursday, August 16.

“We agreed to continue to meet in order to come to a fair and equitable resolution for everyone involved,” Fell said. “The WCAEA is dedicated to providing an excellent education for our children…

Alrighty, so one side mails, the other side press releases, but school begins September 4th and the children of the district are Malcolm in the Middle.

How do you all feel about that?

I found a letter in The Daily Local I would love to share:

Recently, there have been a number of newspaper articles and letters to the editor regarding the current contract negotiations between the West Chester Area School District and its teachers’ union. There have been some key numbers frequently mentioned including an 18 percent average pay increase over the next three years, as well as teachers will receive a 33 percent decrease in the effective compensation over the next three years if the proposed contract is adopted….I find it difficult to believe that the average teacher’s salary will be decreased by 33 percent over the next three years. The most recent letter was from the treasurer of the teachers’ union who again stated the 33 percent decrease concern. I believe it is necessary for that statement to be verified by details showing exactly how the average teacher’s current effective salary would decrease over the next three years from that teacher’s current effective salary.

  I would hope that a union representative would respond in writing with this information

Amen to that!

Suggested reading?

Opposing opinions may stall WCASD contract talks  BY JEREMY GERRARD jgerrard@dailylocal.com  Posted: 08/03/12 12:39 am


Residents Speak Out Against Union Dues Requirement: Residents at the West Chester School District Board meeting speak out against the district’s requirement that all teachers pay union dues. ByJake Speicher Email the author July 24, 2012

Letter: Teachers’ Union Disappointed in School Board.A letter from the West Chester Area Education Association expresses disappointment in the negotiating process to this point.  July 20, 2012

Ok, here is what I think: Both sides will of course (to an extent) interpret the facts to suit their cause.  No one is perfect.  When the economy was better, I am sure everyone can agree this district spent like a drunken sailor on leave, correct?

So now times are tight.  Funding, grants, you name it are down. Which means both sides need to give as they get.

However, that being said, I think this teachers’ union and others need to wake up and smell reality.

They aren’t being asked to suffer a great injustice if they have to contribute towards their healthcare benefits!  Give me a break!  I am one of the millions of Americans who pays for their own healthcare out-of-pocket.  As in 100%.  And oh yes, I paid for breast cancer doing that and survived just fine.

Salaries.  My goodness, where else can you earn a fine salary and take off a few months a year on the taxpayers? Wow.  Most of us in the private sector have considered ourselves lucky for years if we managed to get a cost of living salary increase!  Sorry, but between the salaries and the retirement benefits that enable teachers to not only retire early, but if they have been paying attention, retire rich, I do not feel the love in a need for an 18.3% bump up over three years.

Accountability.  Charter schools and private schools hold teachers accountable.  Heck most jobs in this country exist with a review process as part of the every day  dealio. Public school teachers should be equally accountable.  But if everyone is accountable than those who should have either chosen other career paths or been put out to pasture can’t slide by any longer, can they?

But is the school district itself with 100% clean hands here? Doubtful, never seen one that was.  School districts have all sorts of issues and skewed politics.  What are those in administration giving back as far as salary increases, perks, etc?  Are there positions within administration specifically that could be pared down or eliminated to save money? And above all else are kids in this school district getting an education they can actually use to better their futures?  And what about the bullying issues and other social issues which exist and I never seem to hear addressed? I found a tumblr blog post about bullying that is old that says in part:

Ironic the passing of Rodney King also saw Lou Ferrigno “Hulk” sworn in as a security officer in Los Angeles.  Now that most schools have completed their academic year, it would be time for the school administrations to review their policies for prevention of bullying.  In this area, the West Chester School District has a policy, most recent seems to be 8/08 and states it will be updated every three years.

Am I reading this correctly?  If so, WCASD has some ‘splaining to do there, huh?

And then there is the constant and troubling undertone that one political party runs the school board and school district?  I am a Republican but I still believe that one party rule anything is a bad idea and leads to petty tyranny.

Whatever, I am definitely an outsider looking in.  But what I have seen with regard to this school district is not particularly impressive.  Like much of the public school education in this country, it leaves a lot to be desired and is the only thing the majority of taxpayers can afford.  So taxpayers are stuck no matter what.

What are the taxpayers in the West Chester Area School District going to do?  Smile politely from behind PTA mom and dad faces or get up, stand up, be heard, and demand that both the district and the teachers’ union have accountability?

In my opinion, the choice is up to the taxpayer whether they believe it or not.  Taxpayers can have a real and valid say on how this plays out.   Start now.

Why don’t you contact some of the people listed below? Write the papers? What do you have to lose?  The answer is nothing and the kids have everything to gain.   When did education stop being about preparing future generations for life?

Dr. Marc Bertrando
Assistant Superintendent
Secondary Education  484-266-1004

Dr. Robert Fraser

Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Curriculum  484-266-1198

Dr. Suzanne K. Moore Director of Business Affairs

Business & Finance Department  484-266-1020

Members of the public may contact the Board by email or via the Board Secretary, Mrs. Pauline Bachtle by submitting information in the following manner:

By Traditional Mail:
West Chester Area School Board
c/o Pauline Bachtle, Board Secretary
Spellman Administration Building
829 Paoli Pike
West Chester, PA 19380

By e-mail:
(Note: Mrs. Bachtle, the School Board Secretary, will see that all members of the Board promptly receive your e-mail.)

By Telephone:
Call Mrs. Bachtle at 484-266-1125 if you wish to speak personally with a member of the School Board. Mrs. Bachtle will forward your name and telephone number to the respective Board member.

Members of the 2012 West Chester Area School Board: 

Vincent Murphy, School Board President  vmurphy@wcasd.net

Heidi Adsett, School Board Vice President hadsett@wcasd.net

Sean Carpenter scarpenter@wcasd.net

Ed Coyle ecoyle@wcasd.net

Karen Miller kmiller1@wcasd.net

Dr. Maria Pimley  mpimley@wcasd.net

Linda Raileanu  lraileanu@wcasd.net

Maureen Snook  msnook@wcasd.net

Sue Tiernan  stiernan@wcasd.net

Robert Partridge Communications Program Director
Communications Department  484-266-1170

Dr. Leigh Ann Ranieri  Director of Pupil Services

Pupil Services Department  484-266-1229