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Does Neshaminy School District Represent the Future for T/E?

Do the striking teachers in Neshaminy School District represent the future for other school districts in Pennsylvania? Is this possible in T/E?

My latest post on Community Matters, ‘Is T/E School District the next Neshaminy’ has generated much interest, with teachers, residents and current and former school board members weighing in on the topic. 

The Neshaminy School District teachers have been on the picket line since Monday; also marking the second strike of the year for them.  Back in January, the Neshaminy teachers were on strike for 8 days.  The teachers and the school district have been locked in a vicious contract debate for 4 years with neither side willing budge.  Working under an expired contract for nearly four years, the teachers union in Neshaminy now has the distinction of the longest impasse in the state.  Sticking points in the bitter contract dispute is healthcare and salary. 

Although the Neshaminy teachers have not received a raise since 2008 they are asking that a new contract include a 5% raise retroactively for the last 4 years.  On the healthcare side, the teachers benefit package is completely funded by the taxpayers … no contributions required by teachers. Another component of their current contract is a $27,500 retirement incentive with full insurance coverage.  It has been reported that the Neshaminy teachers are willing to contribute to their healthcare but I have not found anything definite ‘in writing’ to that effect.

As I wrote in January of this year, the teachers in the Neshaminy School District are the highest paid in the state but if we look at PSSA results, the Neshaminy School District doesn’t even make the top 50 in the state, coming in at number 245 among Pennsylvania’s 500 districts.  Over half of the Commonwealth’s school districts have outperformed Neshaminy on PSSA tests for the last 10 years.  Compare that to Tredyffrin Easttown School District and the ranking of third in the state.  If the highest paid teachers, working in a school district that under performs 50% of all other school districts in the state, are willing to strike twice in 6 months … what does that mean for other districts with teacher contracts pending?

Should the reward for the excellent education students receive in Tredyffrin Easttown School District be the threat to our teachers of demotion?  Some readers have suggested on Community Matters, that the school district has nothing left as a contract negotiating tool except for the threat of demotion and an increase in class size.  The teacher’s contract is up in less than 30 days, June 30. 

Is the T/E community prepared for a similar battleground as Neshaminy School District has experienced for the last 4 years? Isn’t there a better way?

To read full story and comments, click here.

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