Last week, the West Chester Area School Board released its proposals in the continuing negotiations with the teachers’ union, and during Monday’s meeting residents of the district responded.
“For the last four or five years the economy has been terrible,” said district resident Helen Webber. “But still the teachers, except for last year, have received raises. The other people in this district have not been immune to the recession and neither should the teachers.”
Many of the residents that spoke at Monday’s meeting said that the teachers asking for an 18 percent raise over the next three years was “appalling.”
“The assertion that the association is seeking an 18 percent salary increase over the next three years proves that the board is only interested in misleading the public,” said Education Association President Debbie Fell.
Fell added, “After offering a pay freeze for the just-completed 2011-12 school year, the association is seeking cost-of-living increases over the next three years.”
In the documents provided by the school board, the school board has offered a nearly four percent raise in the first two years of the proposed contract and a $1,500 bonus in the third year. The board would also make raises and award bonuses contingent of positive performance reviews.
“The association does not want to disrupt the 2012-13 school year,” Fell added. “[The Association] is eager to continue good fait negotiations.”
District resident Mike Short said that he didn’t believe the school board releasing negotiation updates to the public would be productive to the process, and resident Dana Seaman agreed.
“I’m disappointed that the board put that information out there,” Seaman said. “I believe that [the board] skewed the information, and that it wasn’t right to put out there.”
Board president Vince Murphy shot back by saying the information was accurate.
“We worked with our negotiation team,” Murphy said. “We stand by that information.”
“There should be no salary increases,” Webber said. “If the teachers believe they are being treated unfairly then they can leave and see how they do in the private sector.
“We know the board seeks both achievement and affordability,” Fell said. “The [Education Association] shares in these goals and has already taken steps to cut costs for the past three years.”