Tredyffrin Easttown Education Association (TEAA) President Laura Whittaker is calling on the T/E School District Board to reverse itself Monday night when it votes on a fact finder's report about unresolved issues in the ongoing teacher contract negotiations.
The state-appointed fact finder's report would essentially become the new teacher contract if accepted by the board at Monday's vote. The TEAA has already voted to accept Fact Finder Timothy Brown's recommendations. The School Board rejected the report by a 7-2 vote on August 9. Both parties would have to agree to the full report, without any ammendments, for it to become the parameters of a new teacher's contract
Under complicated and somewhat convaluted state regulations, both the union and the board were required to vote on the report before the public could see the specifics. The board voted in order to allow the public to see the full report and scheduled a second vote for Monday night. The board also encouraged and invited the public to reveiew the report (which was posted on TE Patch and is attached to this article as a pdf) and then comment on it during Monday night's meeting.
Public comment and debate on the proposal, which calls for more salary and benefits than the School Board has said the district can afford, has been vigorous and sometimes heated here on TE Patch.
While Brown's report essentially says the district is wealthy and should pay more for salaries and be more flexible with benefits and sick days, it also sides with the board on some points.
Saturday night the teachers union posted a new statement on its website calling on the T/E School Board to accept report and thus settle the contract talks which reached an impasse in June when the union asked for a fact finder to come in and make recommendations.
Both sides had the option of asking for a fact finder who looks at arguments and data presented by both sides and then comes up with an "all or nothing" proposal. The proposal is the report the board will vote on Monday night. Unlike a mediator, the fact finder does not try to facilitate or mediate negotations. If the fact finder's report is accepted by both sides it essentially becomes the contract. If one side rejects it, then it's back to the negotiating table.
Here is the text of the statement issued by the TEAA:
Board’s decision to reject impartial Fact Finder’s report further exposes its inflexibility
Tredyffrin-Easttown Education Association President Laura Whittaker is calling on the members of the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District board to reverse their decision to reject an impartial Fact Finder’s report intended to settle the district’s expired contract with TEEA members.
In the fact-finding process, a neutral, third-party arbitrator reviewed the contract proposals of each side and made recommendations intended to settle the expired contract. The review took 40 days. Once the fact finder issued the report, each party had 10 days to accept or reject the fact finder’s recommendations.
The TESD board rejected the report at its August 9th meeting, and will vote again on the issue during its Monday, August 20, special school board meeting. The meeting starts at 8 p.m. in at the Tredyffrin-Easttown Administrative Offices.
TEEA members voted to accept the Fact Finder’s report even though it contained significant financial sacrifices on their behalf, including approximately $500,000 in lost wages, a reduction in health care benefits, and a loss of tuition reimbursement for professional development.
“School board members have not met with us, and they rejected the Fact Finder’s report without having moved from the original proposal they gave their negotiator in February. They now have another opportunity to vote to settle this contract,” Whittaker said.
Whittaker urges all members of the T/E school community to turn out for Monday night’s school board meeting and make their voices heard. "Parents do not want their children’s education interrupted because of the school board’s stubborn inflexibility," she said.
“If the board would be reasonable and accept the impartial Fact Finder’s report, it would assure that the school year can start on time and without disruption,” Whittaker said.
The school board will hold a special public meeting Monday night at 8 p.m. to take public comment and vote on the fact finder's report.
The meeting is scheduled for the board room of the district's administrative office, 940 West Valley Road, Suite 1700 in Wayne, Tredyffrin Township.