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Residents Question District Contract Proposals

Residents speak out at the West Chester Area School Board meeting.

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.”

Cathy Binder June 26, 2012 at 10:00 PM
As always there will be two sides to the story. I do not trust this board, and know they have ulterior motives as their actions in the past have proven. In a negotiation both sides never put forth their actual "final offers". Of course what the teachers say they want is not what they expect to get, and what the board says they will give is not what they will ultimately settle for. So what is Mr. Murphy and Mr. Sultanik up to other than to derail the process? Reading both sides of this story it is bigger than salaries, class size will go up, teachers have been willing to do more with less. Knowing the parents of this district they expect and want quality, as do I. Our home values in the end do depend on it. And I hate to say it, but the unemployment rate and the private sector right here in Chester County is not that bad, and our taxes in WCASD are the lowest of any district in the county.
Howyalikethemapples? June 27, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Raises of 3% fair and consistent with many of the private employers in the county. No raises for poor performance also fair, I trust Scanlon and his team to implement a fair evaluation system, but would prefer the board to stay out of the teacher evaluation process. Treating our children's teachers poorly not cool, they are professionals and really the salaries are not that great, plus many live in the disteict and their home values have declined just as much as ours. Getting our kids back to school without a strike, with the best teachers we can attract and hire should be the main objective. If the board wants to shed light on the negatiations process so be it but make sure you get it right, give us the current state teacher offer or every offer since talks began, but please don't cherry pick the figures that make for good headlines. The board needs to get this done and done quickly.
Coach Clark June 27, 2012 at 01:28 PM
The average teacher's salary in our District is more than the average household Net Worth in America. You'd need $8,000,000 on deposit in a 1% bank CD to earn $80,000 a year. Our professional staff should be counting their blessings rather than demanding raises. Anyone that has a decent job (with benefits) in today's economy is far luckier than most. Those who expect others to pony up more, more, more are simply greedy.
Howyalikethemapples? June 27, 2012 at 04:22 PM
I for one don't aspire to average and is one of the reasons I choose to live here. I also don't want my kids to have average teachers paid average amounts, I want the best and if that means 3% annual increases so be it. For those still looking to live off income from bank CD rates best of luck, the teachers have made their payments to the retirement system and strange but no one complains about all the other public servants on the plan, just the teachers!

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