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School Board President Makes Statement

Here's is the full statement read by board president Vincent Murphy at Monday's meeting on the on-going teacher negotiations.

The following is a statement from West Chester School Board president Vince Murphy about the on-going teacher negotiations.

I have always believed that much can be accomplished if an individual or an organization is armed with information and optimism.

Perhaps that is why I am looking toward the next negotiation session, slated for November 29th, with a glimmer of hope that progress can occur. You see, earlier this month the West Chester Area School Board held an informational session for the West Chester Area Education Association to provide clarity on the health care benefit plan it has proposed to the teacher’s union.

The School Board has proposed Personal Choice 320 – a PPO which provides members freedom to use their own doctors and hospitals, with no referral requirements. The meeting was well-received.

During the November 6, 2012 jointly prepared session that was intended to educate all of our staff on our health benefits program, our health care consulting firm explained plan offerings, answered questions and dispelled misconceptions. The format of the meeting offered an informal and interactive setting for receiving much-needed clarity about the important topics of coverage, costs, flexibility and the need to consider less costly health benefit plans.

Our School Board was caught off-guard the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to receive a revised healthcare proposal from the WCAEA which represented a complete retrenchment from its previous position. Fortunately, the association leadership re-thought the impact of this proposal and submitted a new one this afternoon. While we have been unable to review it yet, we intend to give it our careful attention over the next couple of days.

As we look ahead toward Thursday night’s negotiation session, it is our sincere hope that the information gleaned from the informational session will enable the WCAEA to move forward with a negotiation session that is focused and productive. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful holiday gift to our teachers, our students and our taxpayers to push past obstacles which divide our parties and reach a settlement? I remain optimistic that there could be an opportunity on Thursday night to do just that.

John Smith November 30, 2012 at 11:59 AM
Like many, i'm tired of the school board giving a blow by blow of these negotiations. Why don't they just put a flippin video camera in the room so we can hear every word uttered? President of the board- please stop spending our money on videos and mailings and our time on hearing your side of these negotiations. Why can't you let this process move on its own- isn't that why we are paying through our teeth for your attorney? Give us a flippin break.
Harry Hoople December 01, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Many teachers do not like the "light of day" illuminating their excessive demands. Cheers to Mr. Vincent for keeping the public well informed on the progress of contract talks. The price tag of these talks drive the increase in your real estate taxes collected by the school district - a bill that usually exceeds what is paid in state income taxes.
Cathy Binder December 01, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Do you really know what the so called "demands" are? I have looked at both sides of the proposals. While I see room for negotiation on both sides what I don't see on the side of the district is any movement. A negotiation implies both sides being willing to move. And the bottom line is this, our takes in WCASD are the lowest in the county for a very high quality product. Our teachers are not the most highly paid. Please do some research before we complain. And yes, as it is a people based business we will have most of our expenses lie in personnel costs.
Harry Hoople December 02, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Cathy, Tax RATES in WC are comparatively low, but you're being misled as to their importance. It's tax DOLLARS that are important. Please read about The Low Millage Rate Myth at this site: efficienteducation.org. WC is an average district in yearly spending per student - about $16,000. It's a standard union tactic to start with ridiculously high contract demands and then claim, "we're moving, but the district is not".
Cathy Binder December 02, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Have you read the proposals? I think not. I have read them both and done some analysis. And your numbers actually are a bit high. As far as I am concerned - a district of over 11,000 kids and 16 buildings that can run its entire operation that is so highly regulated on approximately 210 million is a highly efficient operation. I have examined the books, looked at the budget. They function currently at 2009 levels. Let's stop being so darn cheap and understand for quality we must keep pace. It is more than teacher salaries - so much more.
Harry Hoople December 02, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Cathy, Please be more specific. What "numbers are actually a bit high"? If we take your numbers - 11,000 kids and a $210M budget- that's $19,000 per student each year. It seems my numbers are a bit low; not high. What did you mean when you wrote, "They currently function at 2009 levels"? You've used the phrase, "Let's stop being so darn cheap". Are you under the illusion that more spending will result in a better education for our children?
Rosemary Decker December 02, 2012 at 08:25 PM
http://febp.newamerica.net/k12/PA/4225290 Check it out. Available on the most cursory review, and certainly not a full statistical analysis. If you look at where we rank in the PA/NJ area we are nowhere near the top, but rank well down. This is the 19th richest county in the nation. And yes, regardless our taxes are not that bad. Travel up the road to TE, or even down the road to Downingtown, much similar to us demographically. Taxes are much higher. Sorry, while money does not solve all ills, to say it doesn't matter is foolish as well. Education is not static, it is changing. We either keep up or fall behind. This district has an excellent reputation. IT receives many accolades and our students perform highly. Are we perfect, of course not. But if perfection is the standard we all fail.
Harry Hoople December 02, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Rosemary, I see you've mentioned TE and Downingtown as similar districts. Please note that Downingtown has similar test scores to WC, but spends less per student. Also, note that TE spends the same as WC, but has vastly superior test scores. As much as union leaders want you to believe otherwise, spending is a minor factor when it comes to educational excellence. If spending were all that important, Lower Merion, by far, would be the top performing district in the state; it isn't. I like the phrases, "Education is not static, it is changing. We either keep up or fall behind." What, specifically, would you recommend that the school board do to keep up?
Rosemary Decker December 03, 2012 at 01:17 AM
As I live in Downingtown I can tell you they have vast and serious problems. Far too many to go into here. TE is a much smaller district, with demographics that do not begin to look as diverse as West Chester. TE does not spend the same as WC they spend far more, did you check the data I posted? West Chester is cutting edge in some areas or is trying to be. We are trying to institute Professional Learning Communities, but that takes time during the day. Teachers need together to make this work. Every bit of educational research supports this as increasing student achievement. A good school board needs to support this goal and work towards being sure time in the day is there to make it work. A question for the public to ask is are they? The Common Core has been adopted in PA. This will require serious realignment of curriculum, the need to buy new materials to comply, and to prepare our students for testing. Are we prepared to make those expenditures, to support the professional development that will be necessary? The Keystone Exams are being implemented, a very different test than PSSA's. Are we willing to spend the funds to supply the curricular materials to support this. Why did the district turn down a $500,000 literacy grant to support early reading? This would have supported children who come to us unprepared and reduced future special ed costs and expensive reading intervention. Should I go on? I am out of space, but I could.
Harry Hoople December 03, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Rosemary, I suggest you ditch the newamerica web site and get accurate data from the PA Dept of Ed. First, WC has not reduced spending on students. Second TE and WC spend comparable amounts. Please visit this web site and use Excel to see spending per ADM for any year over the past decade. http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/summaries_of_annual_financial_report_data/7673/afr_data__summary-level/509047 Here is Total Expenditures per ADM for WC and TE. 2010-11 WC $15,510.42 TE $15,641.27 2009-10 WC $15,423.93 TE $16,324.13 2008-09 WC $15,152.65 TE $15,491.72 2007-08 WC $15,171.29 TE $15,107.52 I note your request for additional time for professional learning communities. Do you then support district's proposal to provide more time by extending the work year and limiting personal days?
edufan December 05, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Hey, Harry. It is standard principle for each side to start wide apart and MOST move toward the middle. The board has not moved an inch, as per the recommendaiton of Jeff Sultanuk, Esq. I am so convinced that the board is hoping the teachers strike if they continue to stay put, but the bottom line is that the teachers do not want a strike, there is no talk of a strike (except from certain public education teacher hating board members and their "friends"). The union has moved miles and the board has not moved at all. It is time for the board to stop this expensive nonsense and send their representatives to the table.

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