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In CBA Stalemate with Teachers' Union, School Board Looks to Fact Finder

The Phoenixville Area Education Association called the move unnecessary.

Apparently the children filing into classrooms for the first day of school this morning aren’t the only ones in Phoenixville Area School District trying for a fresh start.

In an attempt to jostle the stalemate its been mired in with the local teachers’ union over the terms of a new CBA, the school board has moved to get an independent fact finder to review both groups’ proposals and make a recommendation, the district announced last week.

The board voted on August 24 to have the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board appoint the mediator. Within 40 days of this appointment, a recommendation will be issued.

Though the findings and the ultimate recommendation of the third party would be non-binding, according to The Mercury, the Phoenixville Area Education Association is fuming that such a move was made.

“The [Phoenixville Area Education Association] is very disappointed that the district chose this path. [The Phoenixville Area Education Association] believes that after 30 months of negotiations, we were within one bargaining session of settlement,” union spokesman Ruthann Waldie said in a release.

School board President Paul Slaninka acknowledged that discussions have been moving in the right direction, but told The Mercury that he thinks both parties would benefit from “one extra pair of eyes” on the dispute, which has been in negotiations for the last 30 months. The previous collective bargaining agreement expired in June of 2010.

“There has been movement on both sides in the last few months,” he said.

MPorchik August 28, 2012 at 08:32 PM
If you use school days, then yea it;s 180 days, but there are days teachers are working that kids aren't. There are also 2 days a week called weekends that you are excluding from your calculation. As I said, PASD year started yesterday and ends on June 7th, so that is 42 weeks. Take away the two weeks for Xmas and Easter, add back in the week before school stgarts and you are at 41 weeks per year. 41*5=205 days. With holidays and vacation I only work 44 weeks a year, 44*5 = 220 days a year I work. You expect teachers to work 52 weeks a year when most people don't work 52 weeks a year due to vacation and holidays, so that skews your numbers.
DJ2 August 28, 2012 at 08:37 PM
I would love for you to clarify your comment when you say " I think people are afraid of Barkley with due reason but these kids all get mixed in at middle school!". I would hate to think you mean what I think you might mean. I would also like to know where you are going? Pottstown? Pottsgrove? Norristown? TE? Methacton? Springford? Personally, I've been very happy with the educational bang I my children gets for my tax buck here in Phoenixville. I think the comments regarding the teachers on here is indicative of that. And yes, my (caucasian) daughter even goes to Barkley (shhh...don't tell my friends!) It seems both Mummy2 and Richard had different facts than you. In fact, Richard claimed he knew for a FACT that the majority...
James Smith August 29, 2012 at 03:19 AM
CC: That question was directed at JK, not you. I believe Reading Comprehension courses are still available for adults.
James Smith August 29, 2012 at 03:54 AM
JK Go back to school and learn correct grammar and punctuation. www.greatschools.org
harry finster August 29, 2012 at 04:03 AM
many european school children score much higher than public educated american children on equivalent tests without paying extravagant salaries and benefits. excessive public salaries and benefits are helping strangle the private sector.in free market terms the education system charges more than its worth do to monopoly conditions .
DJ2 August 29, 2012 at 09:11 AM
Harry: Many European countries don't provide education to all children until the age of 18, either. Therefore, by the time some of those tests are taken in those European countries, only a certain percentage of students are left. If you remove the most under-performing students in the US from those tests, I bet that the scores tell a different story. And before you bring other continents into the argument, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are some of the highest paying countries when it comes to teaching. Furthermore, your statement about European teachers is very broad. In doing some quick research, there is a large discrepancy from 1 country to another in Europe. Bulgaria apparently pays less whereas Ireland and Denmark pay extremely well (quick calculations indicate their average salaries surpass ours). I'm not sure how the test scores compare from Bulgaria to the US though. I also believe many of the countries which are doing very well in those test scores and pay their teachers equivalent or better than the US are much more socialist than the US. For example, a quick google search found that the typically Norwegian teacher makes over $70K at current exchange rates. And their taxes are very high. Finally, most European schools have shorter school years than American schools.
DJ2 August 29, 2012 at 09:27 AM
By the way, has anyone been able to confirm the number thrown out there by Gilligan that the insurance plan is $3000/month and the teachers pay $45? I have to question that since he also said the teachers are looking for retroactive raises for 4 years. They cannot do this since two of those years fall under the last contract. They can only negotiate raises for the last two years. So I must question any 'fact' s/he brings to the table now.
MPorchik August 29, 2012 at 10:06 AM
"CC: That question was directed at JK, not you. I believe Reading Comprehension courses are still available for adults." You put a comment on a public message board then try to berate someone who responds. I realize the comment above wasn't directed at me personally.
JK August 29, 2012 at 10:46 AM
James smith- turn to personal insults when you are called out. TYPICAL. It's called casual dialogue. How about sticking to the facts.
JK August 29, 2012 at 10:47 AM
Oh sorry. I should have ended the last sentence with a '?' but I am rushing because I have to go to work.
Gilligan August 29, 2012 at 11:03 AM
DJ2. You have a few choices to confirm my numbers. Put in a right-to-know letter to the school district. Info here: http://www.pasd.k12.pa.us/site/Default.aspx?PageID=28 Or you can call your friend at the teacher's union. Ruthann Waldie, (717) 255-7000. She claimed they were one meeting away from a settlement. Nah... The phone numbers and emails of the school board members are out there. They may or may not tell you. Let us know the results.
James Smith August 29, 2012 at 12:29 PM
LIsten to these words JK, and think about what I'm saying. My earlier point was in comparing the PASD to the Renaissance Academy Charter School tuition. There is a significant increased tax payer burden of $4000 when a child attends the Renaissance Academy Charter School over PASD. There is also a significant decrease in performance on the PSSA at the Renaissance Academy Charter School when compared to PASD. Instead of addressing this point and answering my question, you write a bunch of lies. I'm sorry that you don't understand that we, as taxpayers, spend and additional 1.15 million dollars for the students attending the under performing Renaissance Academy Charter School. I guess everyone here on this tread is okay with that since no a single concerned taxpayer has made mention of it. It's not okay for you to complain about teacher salaries and the teachers union and not also complain about the incredible waste of tax payer dollars by the PASD School Board. Mr. Slaninka is a former teacher and the president of the Teachers Association at Tredyffrin Easttown. Here's a good read for you JK. http://articles.philly.com/1997-12-16/news/25554814_1_teachers-contract-senior-teachers-salary-scale Why can't Paul bring 6 years of labor peace to Phoenixville?
Chris August 29, 2012 at 12:36 PM
$45/month is the current contract rate. I have no knowledge of what they're looking for in the new contract.
Chris August 29, 2012 at 12:50 PM
fwiw, I confirmed it above also... I don't begrudge anyone for getting a good deal and at the time that deal was signed it was not "out of whack" as it seems today..... Nor can anyone truly confirm what they're asking for at the table this time around. If someone knew with certainty that the union was looking for no increase in benefits, then that's worth a protest. But there's no way to confirm that. All we know is what's happened in the past.
Gilligan August 29, 2012 at 01:01 PM
It's only my guess that the school district asked them to contribute a few percent to their plans and they said no. Neshaminy teachers pay zero percent. Most Americans pay about 30%. Somewhere inbetween is a fair share, but the union isn't concerned with fair.
DJ2 August 29, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I don't understand, Gilligan. You were the one who quoted the number, yet you are now asking me to do the research? I guess I was under the impression that you had the facts and the source, otherwise you wouldn't just throw out that number. I would like to think you were factually correct in that.
Chris August 29, 2012 at 04:25 PM
By a few percent you mean "a few more percent" because they already do contribute a flat $45 (which obviously equals a different @ for each teacher). But I prefer not to "guess" what the district has asked them to contribute as I have no clue. For all I know the sticking point is retro salary increases or some other factor and they actually agree on health care costs. Who knows....
Gilligan August 29, 2012 at 06:27 PM
DJ2. I can't quote my source, but it's 45 bucks. You'll have to accept it or get confirmation thru right to know. All this will be public very soon. Chris. $45 is 1.5% of 3000. Maybe they were asked to pitch in 2% (60 bucks) and said no. I wouldn't put it past them since they know Neshaminy pays zero... I don't know exact numbers, but I can guarantee they are worlds apart on the healthcare costs. You're right they have a good deal, but it's going to break us if you factor in taxes are going up 8% next year to cover pensions and 2014 looks much worse.
Chris August 29, 2012 at 06:47 PM
$45 fkat dollar. What I am saying is that it's not percentage based today. Regardless of flat $ or %, it's low for most and certainly way under the averages. And again, I'll confirm the number for what that's worth....and BTW, that is the number for teachers only, not the other two unions. As for the "speculation" again, I think it's disingenious to comment since nobody has any idea. I could just as eaily say they're willing to pay 10% but the district wants 15%. None of us know nor do we know if health care is even the issue they are apart on. One thing I know for certain is that unless the district gets more than they do today to cover these cost, ALL residents will be looking at an increasingly hefty tax burden. Gilligan, I suspect our sources are the same based on the information you're posting.
DJ2 August 29, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Chris and Gilligan...just to clarify (and correct me if I'm wrong): 1. The teachers pay $45 for a $3000 plan. 2. Neither of you can state your source, even though you think it's the same source. Apparently, Gilligan's source is Deep Throat and cannot state where his information came from. 3. Gilligan states it is a percentage while Chris says its a flat amount. 4. Gilligan has stated some other things as facts which are not legally possible. 5. Despite you two saying these things, we should not say these things are fact, but rather look at this information as speculation; even though you both claim you have a source. Does that summarize it well? Perhaps you could clarify what plan costs $3000? Is it for a single person? Married? Family? I would doubt that everyone in the district has the same exact plan, although there is a chance I'm wrong on that. I will agree with you on this: If they truly are paying 1.5% towards their medical, they should be paying more. Most districts have been at or above 10%.
Chris August 30, 2012 at 12:30 AM
I don't know the details of the cost of the plan. I do know that it costs the teachers $45/month. That's in the contract which is easy enough to put your hands on. Everyone in the teachers union (one of three unions in the distrcit...the others being maintenance, administrative, etc.) has the same plan. It's the same cost regardless of single/family to my knowledge but of that I am only somewhat certain (I could look it up as I have a copy of the contract). Bottom line is they pay too little. I don't blame them because when the deal was signed it was a different era. However, things are different now. But you should feel good about the "facts" Gilligan and I have stated as they are true. If you need "proof" I cannot help you but I also have better things to do than to lie on the patch :-)
harry finster August 30, 2012 at 02:44 AM
i am replying to the european comment because there was no way to directly reply ,spain which has low pay across the board outshines us schools in science and math ,people trained in vocational subjects (building constuction etc) far out perform us workers when it comes to learning ability and knowledge theory ,i have personal experience with this ,the failure is due to the poor quality of us educators and their lack of depth of understanding of their subjects we say "teachers are the handymen of knowledge they know just enough to be dangerous"
DJ2 August 30, 2012 at 09:43 AM
Harry: I think you have an excellent point about vocational schools and curriculum in schools. I think what we teach in schools and how we teach it needs to be drastically altered. I have a friend in Germany who speaks highly of the way they do things there with apprenticeships, etc. I would argue that it isn't the fault of the everyday classroom teacher. They don't have much flexibility in the topics they have to teach. Those decisions are made at a much higher level. When schools are judged according to test scores, there isn't much room for application and utilization of knowledge. There is only time for memorizing facts and taking practice tests for the almighty PSSA's. I did look up some test scores as well. Back in 2005, 15 year olds throughout the world took part in the Program for International Student Assessment, which gauges math literacy. Spain was 1 spot higher on the list compared to the US, and 2 points better. Not sure if that is "outshining", but whatever. Interestingly, the top countries on the list were Finland, South Korea, Netherlands, and Japan. All those countries either pay their teachers more than the US or have much higher taxes. In fact, I believe South Korea and Japan are among the highest paying for teachers in the world. I would argue that the way in which many people in those 4 countries view education and the teaching profession is very different than the US as well.
Gilligan August 30, 2012 at 10:44 AM
DJ2 seems to have an awful lot of time. She can bust down and spend 25 cents to get the right to know or all the facts will be out in about 30 days. She should move to Europe if it's so great. It's only good to visit. One problem with our teachers is it's easy to teach a kid WHAT to think, but a challenge to teach them HOW to think, for 2 reasons. One is because it's an easy lesson plan to tell the kids, "memorize this crap and quiz tomorrow." Memorization has zero needs in today's business world. The second reason is many students are good at memorizing, getting an A on the test and the teacher gets a good grade too for a worthless lesson plan. Give them an open-ended question with an open-book test and they'll freak out. As will their parents since their A is no longer guaranteed. Memorizing went out with the 50s, but there are still teachers at pams that go with this plan. Complete waste of time.
DJ2 August 30, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Gilligan: I wasn't the one who brought up Europe, but whatever. Perhaps instead of complaining about Phoenixville taxes, you could move to another district? Keep in mind that the memorization taught in schools is sadly necessary to pass PSSAs and other standardized tests through which schools are evaluated under the NCLB act. Since you disagree with unions and the current teaching methods, you should know this: the teacher unions disagree with the standardized tests that encourage memorization. It is the politicians who pass those measures and tie those test scores to teacher evaluations. Teacher unions want a more comprehensive evaluation process for both teacher and student. Seems to be a flaw in your argument.
harry finster August 30, 2012 at 03:30 PM
DJ2 you sound like a leftest but intelligent you should move to a normal place and get away from all the phoenixville weirdo's then you would realize that it's all bull anyway and you could focus on bigger issues .
Gilligan August 30, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Corbett will get rid of all this leftist crap soon enough.
DJ2 August 31, 2012 at 01:57 AM
harry: That is actually a very nice compliment. Thank you. I suppose I am more leftist than most. I'd like to think that it's more of a hope that all people contribute in a positive way towards their community and society on general. I don't like free loaders any more than I like people who feel the need to step on others to make more money than they can possibly ever use. I find it interesting that the countries whose economies seem the strongest also seem to be the happiest. And to bring it back to this article- I think education is a strong part of that. Including the way it is viewed, implemented, valued, and respected by everyone involved in an individual's personal education. When I'm one of the leaders, I'll hire you for my administration to keep me in check.
DJ2 August 31, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Of course, Corbett could tax the shale and solve a lot of these problems and more. It might even fulfill the obligations to the pension system that the state and local school boards neglected and save all of us tax payers a lot of money in the next few years. Don't worry, Gilligan- I'm away for the weekend so you can have the last word if you want :) We'll talk again when the fact finding report comes back.
Tom Sunnergren (Editor) September 05, 2012 at 03:10 PM
We've got an update gang: http://phoenixville.patch.com/articles/cba-update-mediator-could-come-as-soon-as-september

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