The Neshaminy School Board manages the annual budget for the operation of all Neshaminy District schools. Although they must approve a budget each year, there are a number of outstanding issues that will affect us for the foreseeable future. We have attempted to summarize these issue below. Although we believe this to be an accurate summary, we highly recommend that you read the full version of Neshaminy's final operating budget of 2010.
The budget does not show the specific details behind each line item, but it is important for you to know the facts surrounding these matters. Of highest priority is the current teacher agreements that expired over 2 years ago but remain in force until a new agreement is reached. The agreement made with the NFT community is rich in guarantees, bonuses, and security for certified staff and accounts for 48.61% of the projected revenue - or $78M. Once tenured, teacher positions are protected, yet they will receive steady pay increases based on their years of service. They are given 100% employer-paid health benefits, currently at the highest tier of a PC15 plan, and a single-provider subscription plan. The health care cost is estimated to be $26,000 per teacher - and this benefit is granted to them even after retirement until the age of 65. Teachers are given a $27,500.00 bonus upon retirement.
Because they are considered state employees, the details of the state pension program also are in effect. This is not an item to be negotiated in the CBA but it is something that will impact us as tax payers. PSERS guarantees them up to 100% of their highest average salary, based on years of service, for the rest of their lives. This guarantee is up to the employer to cover should market returns not be sufficient. The actual cost of this program has not yet been realized because it has been deferred. Starting in 2012, we are expected to see a steep increase in taxes to begin covering the difference. This would equate to an estimated $311 increase in the average tax bill for each homeowner in 2012-13.
To make matters worse, the NFT community has threatened to use such tactics as Work To Contract (WTC) and even strikes until a new agreement is reached. These moves would put students at risk as the NFT community desires to use them as leverage during negotiations. As you can see, the deck has been stacked heavily against you. Unfortunately, it shows no signs of getting better as evidenced by the latest NFT contract demands. You can not afford to remain dormant any longer!
The tide must shift back in our favor and that has to begin with this next contract. Otherwise, we will be facing even increasing deficits for the duration of the next agreement and we will have go through all of this again when the agreements expire. That's why you must speak up, attend meetings, and make sure the board makes no agreement with the union that would hurt us further. Remember that you pay taxes for this whether you have children attending district schools or not, or if you don't have children at all.
This is not an issue only for parents of Neshaminy students! Let your property tax bill serve as motivation for you to start attending school board meetings!
Outstanding issues in Neshaminy's 2010-11 budget:
2002: Original CBA is agreed upon. It includes limited steps to highest salary, 100% employer-paid benefits, longevity pay, $27,500 in retirement bonus, and 100% employer-paid health care after retirement.
2008: CBA term expires. Teachers work under the terms of the old contract until a new agreement is reached.
May 2008: Board delivers its initial proposal to the NFT community. Changes include more steps to maximum salary, employee contributions to health insurance, elimination of retirement bonus, and elimination of longevity pay.
May 2008: NFT delivers its initial proposal to the board. Demands include higher salary increases, retirement bonus increased to $30,000, and continuation of free health care even in retirement.
2008-2010: NFT and NSB participate in a limited number of negotiation sessions. No change in stance by either side.
2009-2010: NFT community "encourages" WTC action by teachers in two consecutive school years.
Aug 2010: NFT delivers a counter proposal that includes changes to the health plan but maintains 0% employee contributions. Maintains free insurance in retirement, retirement cash, and continues longevity bonuses. Retropay expected.
Nov 2010: NFT members vote to suspend WTC. NFT leadership obtains the services of a PR firm to help repair public image. No movement on health care contributions, health care in retirement, retirement cash, or raises to raises.
Dec 2: Negotiation scheduled. NFT tries to appear more flexible and willing to discuss everything without mention of any concessions. We'll see.
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