2016-10-18 Regular Legislative Meeting in 2 Separate Recordings
The regular meeting business opened with a statement by the superintendent regarding the status of the contract negotiations with the teachers union. The key news item from that statement was that both parties will be contacted by the state mediator soon.
To review, in 2014 the union agreed to a 2 year extension of the 2011 contract. It is that extension that expired this year.
On October 19, 2011, Nearly 5 years ago to the day of today's meeting, State Mediator John M. Skonier issued a fact-finding report that helped settle the last negotiated contract (http://bit.ly/2dyhrmd).
Mr. Skonier's words from 2011– written when the PSERS Employer Contribution Rate was 5.64%– are still timely: particularly since the PSERS rate has more than quadrupled to 25.84% for 2015/16:
The record reveals that, among the 21 comparable school districts, the taxing effort of the District is high.
The current economic climate and the fiscal constraints facing school districts today are unprecedented. The country is in the grips of a major recession and revenue sources are dwindling. Compounding this situation is the effect of Act 1 on the ability of a district to raise revenues and the decreased market values of real property, the primary source of tax revenues for a school district. In addition, districts are facing a looming crisis presented by the expanding costs of PSERS. While this is certainly not the fault of the Association or the District, it is the current situation in which we find ourselves.
These challenges require innovative approaches to bargaining. There must be a balancing between ever increasing health care costs and the limited economic resources available in the foreseeable future. In view of this, the salary schedules recommended must be seen in tandem with the health care recommendations as a part of a “package” that, hopefully, will lead to a contract.
In other news, The Cedarbrook project required the approval of two change orders, for foundation wall improvements (approx $168K) and continuing study of the soil around an elevator shaft that was discovered to be contaminated. The study purpose is to determine the extent of environmental contamination ($56.4K).
The Liaison Committee reported a few items of interest:
- The township library system is requesting a financial contribution from the district which was stopped because of budget shortfalls.
- The township pools are over 50 years old and are in need of upgrades. The township will be applying to the state for funding.
- The township is in contract negotiation with police and public works employee unions.
- Due to increasing incidents with the deer population, a company called "Abington Deer Management" was hired to cull the deer herd. The company will use archery, not firearms on public land. The will not enter any private land. The company uses licensed and certified archers and the deer meat goes to public shelters.
The district continues to send presumably trained staff to conferences in the hopes that it improves academic performance. Here is this month's conference roundup (total known cost is $10864.74):
- Apple Education Trainer Certification in Norristown (3 people @ $435.00)
- Eastern Pennsylvania Ed Administrators Conference in Hershey PA (No Estimate Given)
- Wilson Foundation Training Level K in Norristown PA (3 people @ $389.75)
- Strategic Agility in Practice in New York, NY (1 person @ $1655.00)
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in Philadelphia, PA (1 person @ $325.00)
- The Attendance / Child Accounting Professional Association Fall Conference in Hershey, PA (2 people @ $1103)
- Open Resources Conference in Norristown, PA (1 person @ $495.00)
- PA Positive Behavioral Support Universal Training in Norristown PA (1 person @ $459)
- Innovator's Mindset Workshop in Downingtown, PA (1 person @ $475.00 )
- PA Association for Gifted Education in Harrisburg PA (1 person @ $756.16)
- Mindfulness for Educators Conference in Cambridge, MA (1 person @ $2,798.81 )
In comments at the end of the meeting, a mother of a Glenside Elementary student complained that equipment that was independently donated to the school by parents was thrown onto the roof of the school by a Glenside Elementary playground monitor. She also stated that that the parents had put in several work orders and asked staff to bring the equipment down. The equipment is reportedly still on the roof.