The expiration of the very expensive collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in combination with a declining economy has left us with many difficult choices to make.
Let's take a look at some of those issues, especially as they pertain to current negotiations between the School Board and the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers (NFT).
The term of the currently effective CBA was 2002-2008. Upon its expiration both parties were bound by the terms of the contract at its final year - also know as "Status Quo". Neither side can deviate from those terms until a new agreement is reached. Thus all of the salary information that follows has been in effect since the 2007-2008 school year.
The Salary Schedule outlines a minimum starting salary of $42,552 and a max of $95,923 reached after 11 years. These numbers serve as the base salary and don't include longevity pay, dept head bonuses, doctorate bonuses, or additional stipends. At the end of the 2007-2008 school year 43% of teachers had reached the max base salary.
Doctorate degree or achievement of National Board Certification awards an additional $1500/year.
Longevity pay provides staff with guaranteed annual bonuses once they reach 20 years of service. 20-24 years: $1,700; 25-29 years: $2,100; 30-34 years: $2,500; 35 years+: $2,950.
Lead Teachers/Department Heads receive an additional 8% of their salary (not to exceed $3000/year).
Health Care. The Neshaminy School District (your tax money) pays the full premium cost of health insurance, vision, and dental plans for individual, spouse, and dependants. The current offering is a Blue Cross/Blue Shield PC15 plan.
Retirement is an option after only 10 years of service. Upon retirment employees receive: $27,500 cash payment AND $70/day of unused sick days without limit AND FREE dental, vision, and health insurance for individual, spouse, and dependents until the age of 65. Although outside of the terms of the contract, the Pennsylvania State Employee Retirement System also applies to them and can result in as much as 100% of their highest average salary per year for the rest of their lives - mostly backed by employer contributions (your taxes).
If you find any of this intriguing, you should read the full text of the 2002 Collective Bargaining Agreement. It contains detailed descriptions of everything outline above as well as many other things. The grievance process is one item of particular interest even though it has no direct financial impact of its own. It is an important read because the proposals being made now simply extend or alter the terms of this agreement.
Remember that everything in the 2002 agreement that is neither removed nor modified in the next agreement will be extended for the new term!
#1: Get involved! By far the most important thing you can do. All it really requires is attending each of the school board meetings so that you remain apprised of the situation. See the board meeting schedule.
#2: Inform your friends once you're involved and aware. The numbers are heavily in our favor but we need more active residents for it to make a difference.
#3: Speak out! Once you have informed your opinion speak up at board meetings, write letters to the editor, email friends and family, and share your ideas. This district needs to be driven by our collective objectives. Remember to always express yourself respectfully and objectively!
#4: Educate your children. Once your children are old enough to understand and act rationally on their own, let them in on the process. Not only will you be training them for the world outside of their hallways, but they'll have a lot of insight to share with you about the school as well. You may not be much help with their triganomotry homework, but you can still help prepare them for the world they will be entering.
#5: Be strong! This is not a simple or quick fight, and it isn't likely to be over soon. Even after the biggest issues have been resolved we must continue to keep our focus. No one cares more than we do about our taxes, our children, or our future! Do not back down from goals that you believe to be reasonable and beneficial.
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