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The Playwickian

News

November 22, 2011

NFT, NSB comment on teachers’ contract
The Playwickian Staff created a list of questions students had regarding the contract negotiations. The answers provided by Neshaminy Federation of Teachers President Louise Boyd and Neshaminy School Board member William O’Connor and the are published unedited as to clarify both views of the current contract disputes.

NSB- Whether there is a strike or not is the NFT’s choice to make. Not only would a strike not bring us closer, it would drive our two sides even further apart along with the community. If the teachers union chooses to strike, it will not change Neshaminy’s or our taxpayers’ economic situation but create more of a financial hardship on Neshaminy families. A strike does not create more money. 4. If you were to compromise on the opposing side’s demands, how would this impact the budget in years to come? NFT- At this point, it is very difficult to answer this question. For four years, the School Board has shown few, if any, signs of willingness to work with NFT toward a fair compromise. It is only in the last few weeks that we have received current and accurate budget information that we hope will allow us to make the calculations on the budgetary impact of any possible compromise. NSB- Such concessions would save us many millions of dollars every year, allowing us to reinvest in our educational programs without placing a further burden on our tax payers. 5. What would you like to communicate to the other party? NFT- It is time to bargain seriously. That is a message that NFT members have repeated many times over the last four years of stalemate in negotiations. We want Board members and the entire community to value teachers and respect their role in the classroom of shaping our children’s futures and preparing them for success. Further delays and stalling by the School Board in reaching an agreement only hurts Neshaminy kids.

1. Where do the negotiations stand at this point? NFT- After a break of two and one half months, NFT teachers and the School Board recently met to resume talks. Just weeks prior to that meeting, the School Board shared current financial and personnel information, usually shared in the early weeks of the bargaining process to make sure both sides are basing proposals off of accurate information. NFT has offered our sixth proposal. In this newest offer, teachers have made concessions that would mean millions in savings to the Neshaminy School District from the fourth contract proposal we presented earlier this year. Neshaminy teachers have made massive salary concessions, and we have offered to pay a significant portion of our health insurance premiums. In addition, we are offering to accept a change in the District’s retirement benefit package that would result in even more savings to the school system. Teachers are now in the fourth school year of working without a new contract. We are looking forward to resolving our remaining differences and moving quickly toward a final agreement. But the Board has failed to come to the bargaining table prepared to negotiate in good faith. We are hopeful that is what will happen at our next scheduled meeting on Dec. 6. NSB- Regrettably there has been very little progress after four years of negotiations. Both sides remain far apart on all the key issues. 2. What changes are you looking for in the contract? NFT- Teachers have been clear all along about what we want. We want to maintain our voice in the educational process and we want a contract that is fair to students, taxpayers and teachers. Contrary to the impression that has been created in the Neshaminy community by a small group of people, our contract is about much more than salaries and benefits. Neshaminy teachers have a history of working together with the school district to develop and implement programs and policies that benefit the students in our classrooms. We have collaborated with school administrators on curriculum, class sizes, grading policies and many other issues that have a direct impact on students. Through our previous contracts, teachers have had a voice on these and other classroom issues. We want an agreement that continues to allow us to be advocates for student needs. NSB- The Board is looking to completely revamp the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) because the existing one is unaffordable and impractical. Our focus is on the key cost drivers such as retirement benefits, aggressive salary steps, and employee health care contributions. 3. Is there a possibility of a strike in the near future? How would a strike bring both sides closer to a settlement? NFT- Nobody wants a strike—not one teacher. It is up to the School Board whether there is a strike. If they come to the bargaining table ready to negotiate a fair settlement, the possibility of a strike will disappear. It’s truly in their hands now.

NSB- Despite what you’ve been told, the Board has taken a strong stand for one reason - to preserve the Neshaminy School district. This isn’t about politics, and it’s not an attack on public unions. It’s about our students, our tax payers, and our community. 6. What would you like to bring to the community’s attention? NFT- We would hope that our neighbors throughout the community could understand the distance that teachers have traveled in our contract talks. Over the course of four years, we have made six proposals—each one of them involving compromises and concessions by teachers in wages, health care contributions, and retirement benefits. On the other side there has been little or no movement by the School Board. We think that reasonable people in our community understand that compromise requires movement on both sides. NSB- We will continue to educate the community on the extremely high costs associated with the current CBA. The public must understand that meeting in the middle will result in drastic budget and program cuts. 7. What is your hope for the upcoming negotiation sessions in December? NFT- We are nearly halfway through our fourth year of working without a new contract. Our hope is that we can reach a settlement that is good for kids and fair to the community, taxpayers and teachers. The clock is ticking on this process. School Board members hold the keys to bring this to a positive conclusion before they further hurt our students’ education. NSB- Our greatest hope is that NFT leaders will stop protecting the status quo, and instead try to understand the serious financial conditions surrounding us.

OCCUPY: Moving on
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who proposed a peaceful protest of Wall Street against corporate influence on democracy. The Occupy protests started off mostly peaceful, but as of late have turned violent. Homeless people and squatters who do not share the views of the protesters have been infiltrating the camps. There have been incidents of rape, assault, and shootings as well. As a result, city officials all around the county have been cracking down on the Occupy movement. On Nov. 13, Occupy Oakland protesters were kicked out by police for the second time. An Occupy camp in Portland, Oregon was cleared out and protesters in Burlington, Vt., peacefully vacated their two-weekold camp after a man shot himself to death inside a tent. Despite the recent crackdown on the Occupy movements, protests have spread all around the globe. There have been protests from Australia to South Korea to Switzerland to England, and everywhere in between. As of Oct. 9, protests had been taking place in 95 cities across 82 countries, but in the last month it has spread to nearly 2,500 cities. With this “democratic awakening” so wide reaching, there is no end in sight.

Seniors face-off at Powder Puff tonight
By Melanie Matyi News Editor Join the senior girls as they face off in tonight’s annual Powder Puff football game. The girls, separated into two teams—red and blue—will swap places with the guys, taking the field as has been the tradition since the mid-1980s. Coached by various senior guys, the senior girls have been practicing for the past weeks. “It’s a lot of practices but it’s worth it,” Marissa Pacitto stated. The guys utilize their knowledge by helping the girls prepare for the big game. “Even if you don’t know how to play football, you’ll learn and have fun,” Megan Romberger said. After their weeks of practicing, the girls have honed their skills. “This is a privilege the senior girls get,” Pacitto said. They appreciate the time the guys put in to coach them and aid them in becoming better. “It was so nice of our coaches to give their time to help us prepare for it; we’ve had a lot of fun at practices,” Laura Alvino stated. Powder Puff is somewhat of a misnomer. Even though it is girls playing the formidable game of football, a good competitive game can be expected. Like Gym Night, this school event is taken very seriously—especially with their color’s reputation on the line. “Red defense is menacing,” Amber Middleman said. “We always bring it!” Not to leave the offense out, her twin sister, Brittany Middleman added, “Red offense is a good time. I’m looking forward to a hopeful red win.” Blue also has a strong defense according to Sara Burns. “Blue team has definitely stepped up our game and we’re all really excited for game night and just focused on having fun and hopefully leaving with a win,” Jill Amoroso stated. Equally invigorated through their hard work, both the red and blue teams are waiting in anticipation for the face-off. Alvino agreed commenting, “Everyone is looking forward to the game.” Not only a chance for the senior girls to show off their brute strength before departing from Neshaminy, the game also helps out a local cause. All of the ticket proceeds from the game benefit the Detective Chris Jones Foundation. The girls are focused on the big game tonight and a looming victory—for the triumphant team—but are also savoring their last memories at Neshaminy. “Powder Puff is a lot of fun. It’s definitely a highlight of senior year. I’m looking forward to a competitive game against blue,”Ally Prencavage stated. Win or lose, this annual tradition is a fun way to participate in the school. Haley Buxton exclaimed “Powder Puff is so fun! It’s great to be a part of a team! Shout out to b-squad!” Agreeing, Burns said, “It’s fun, I get to play with my friends.” Both teams have been working hard at tough but enjoyable practices for the last several weeks just for this one night. The showdown will occur tonight, Nov. 22 at Harry E. Franks Stadium. Admission to the game is $5 and pregame activities start at 6:30 p.m. with kick off following immediately after.

Blue Seniors Kate Gutherman and Sara Burns (l to r) face off with red Seniors Carly Wallick and Hannah Sufrin (l to r). Photo Illustration/ Tyler Kitchenman