The New Hope-Solebury School Board and teachers union have been slugging it out in slow motion this past year over a new contract to replace the one that expired June 30.
Meanwhile, teachers are operating under “work to rule,” sticking to their contractual hours under the old contract, or about 7.5 hours daily.
The conservative Doylestown Intelligencer took a swipe at New Hope-Solebury teachers in a Dec. 6 editorial, saying that “if taxpayers got a look at union demands, they’d likely to [sic] show up at the next town council or school board meeting with pitchforks and torches.”
But documents published by the New Hope-Solebury (NH-S) school board and conversations with those knowledgeable about negotiations don’t point to an insurmountable gap between bargaining positions. In key areas like salaries and benefits, the two sides seem at first glance to be roughly in the same ballpark.
“The association doesn’t feel like we’re that far apart in the final numbers,”explained Yona Rose, chief negotiator for the New Hope-Solebury Education Association. “How we get there is where we are at odds right now.”
“The proposals are far apart, but discussions are amiable,” observed NH-S School Board President John J. Capriotti. “There’s a lack of understanding on both sides on how each side is costing — the teachers don’t understand how we’ve been costing, or think we’re being overly pessimistic.”
Capriotti sees nothing but budgetary deficits ahead for the school district no matter which proposal ultimately prevails.
“We will still be incrementally more in the red every year,” he said. “Our proposal assumes we will take the maximum allowed tax increase permitted each year. If the teachers get what they want, we’re going to run out of money in a couple of years. Our projections are that if the teachers accept our offer, we’ll still be operating at an ever-increasing deficit.”
Rose said that teachers recognize the district’s budgetary constraints, but are concerned about being able to keep pace with the cost of living.
“The association wants a fiscally responsible contract that maintains the district’s ability to pay for the staff and staff needs equally,” Rose said. “Taxpayer money is not only used to pay for student programs, but also pays for teachers that run, develop, and enhance the programs that engage students. Teachers are seeking a fair annual increase to keep up and provide stability in an ever more expensive world, while trying to be fair to the community.”
For now, the teachers union is pressing on with its demands, while teachers operate on their contractual “work to rule” basis under which work after school or during lunchtime is excluded.
“It’s our only way of communicating to the community that we’re having trouble getting a contract,” Rose explained. “Every teacher struggles with the decision with work to rule, and desperately wants to get back to the way things were. They miss their extracurricular work, and the feeling of helping, teaching, and guiding. It was not a simple decision, and not meant to harm anybody, but its all we can do at this particular time.”
The observable impact on students seems minimal, with fewer quizzes in class perhaps, or a longer wait for parents expecting a call back from a teacher.
Where next for negotiations?
“I’ve told the school board that I want to have a review of the development of the budget, and then if we’re comfortable, do the same exercise with the bargaining group,” Capriotti said. “If we can come to agreement on the financial basis of the negotiations, then we can have more fruitful negotiations.”
Capriotti said he’ll be asking for a “quick turnaround” on the review from the school board — about half of whom are new to their jobs — at a Dec. 21 executive session.
“The district hasn’t brought a proposal or compromise since June,” Rose observed. “We are actively working toward finding common ground, and are looking forward to their providing some movement in the conversation.”
Bucks County SD top salaries for 2015-2016. Reference: http://www.openpagov.org
Year School District Annual Salary
2015-16 Centennial SD $111,867
2015-16 New Hope-Solebury SD $111,482
2015-16 Council Rock SD $110,970
2015-16 Bensalem Township SD $109,649
2015-16 Council Rock SD $107,738
2015-16 Neshaminy SD $107,469
2015-16 Central Bucks SD $104,730
2015-16 Quakertown Community SD $103,708
2015-16 Bristol Borough SD $103,163
2015-16 Palisades SD $100,490
2015-16 Council Rock SD $100,238
2015-16 Pennsbury SD $99,204
2015-16 Morrisville Borough SD $98,335
“Just the facts please” is full of BS and lies.
You should be ashamed of yourself for attacking the teachers of our children.
Read or Click below to see the AVERAGE teacher salaries from that website mentioned above as “reference”
Year School District Annual Salary
Danville Area SD $100,002
Central Montco Technical High School $95,235
Lower Merion SD $94,361
Council Rock SD $93,655
Centennial SD $91,844
Middle Bucks Institute of Technology $91,247
Neshaminy SD $90,842
Wissahickon SD $90,066
Colonial SD $90,044
Upper Merion Area SD $89,897
Quakertown Community SD $89,606
Upper Bucks County AVTS $88,378
Upper Dublin SD $87,158
Bristol Borough SD $87,073
Montgomery County IU 23 $86,322
Cheltenham Township SD $85,683
Dallastown Area SD $85,656
Montour SD $85,433
New Hope-Solebury SD $85,051
Lower Moreland Township SD $84,942
Bristol Township SD $84,660
Radnor Township SD $84,373
Ridley SD $84,251
Abington SD $83,916
Starting salary; $48,455. Top salary $133,009 which can be achieved in 13 years. A change of $64,554. An average annual increase of 10.25%. Reference: google search on NHS teacher salary. pdf file NHSEA final contract 8-25-14, pg 3.
Hey facts please, yours lie!! Top salary is not $133,009…also you can’t reach $111,009 by just teaching 13 years. A teacher has to teach 13 years while going to graduate school at night and spend years and thousands of dollars to get 60 graduate credits…That is equal credits to a doctoral program.
School District County Elementary Secondary Average
Lower Merion SD Montgomery$19,142.98 $20,744.13 $19,943.56
Wilkinsburg SD Allegheny$15,175.33 $22,557.85 $18,866.59
New Hope-SoleburSD Bucks$17,065.54 $19,807.06 $18,436.30
Out of 499 school districts
That’s No. 3 in spending per student out of 499 school districts. Reference: http://www.education.pa.gov. Fiscal year 2016-2017 certified.
Jack, there you go again professing to know all about what Republicans dream. Thank you for your good wishes regarding my employment future. They are not needed. I retired after 38 years teaching for a school district on the Main Line similar to New Hope-Solebury. I always referred to it as the “country club” of schools after having taught in N.Y.C. I’ve subbed in New Hope. The same country club description could be used. For many years my salary was in the 6 figures and I earned every penny of it. I’m sure the teachers in New Hope/Solebury do as well. Even in the best of conditions, it’s a tough job. The district paid for my benefits initially, then it changed to a nominal contribution by employees. That nominal contribution continued to increase with each contract negotiation and I understood the economic necessities behind that. No healthcare benefits were offered after retirement, so for 5 years I will foot the bill myself. I’m not complaining, unlike others claiming to be the best & the brightest, who expect to be completely taken care of by their employers. I don’t think there is any need to worry about teachers leaving this district.
One very simple question for Chief negotiator for the teachers, Yona Rose. Can he how everyone where the money is coming from for teacher raises? If the vast majority of the teachers who make over 100K are having a problem keeping up with inflation, what should be said for all those people who are making far less?
I would like to see the people who are putting in comments come to the next school board meeting which will be held this Thursday, Dec 21 starting at 6 PM . Each of you will be given three minutes to express your concerns to the school board.
Now it is obvious to me that in many respects Jack Menzi’s remarks are filled with distortions not that he intended to do so, but because he is out of the loop. This is a characteristic of someone who doesn’t come to the school board meetings and committee meetings.
In line with this one of the Action items for Thursday night that will be voted on, is for the board to select a replacement for a board member whom resigned. Hopefully, the choice will be someone who is well within the loop; someone who has attended a multiple of meetings and has contributed positive input.
Mr Menzi I never said it was OK that the district was spending millions on new construction
or sports teams. I just feel that the teachers are paid very well right now and the school district is struggling to balance their budget because of the profligate spending by past boards. I do not want to see the district go bankrupt.
New Hope-Solebury was ranked by US News and World Report as #2 in Pennsylvania for a number of years and #303 Nationally for 2017 (up from #320 in 2016)! And that amazing feat translates in a bright future for our children and a bright future for our home values.
Who will be held responsible when our home values tumble and our home equity evaporates Mr. Capriotti?
I’m sure everybody understands the importance of school in children’s future and in our home values: there’s a reason why people rush to buy houses and enroll their kids in New Hope. And the reason is our teachers – NOT that our trees are greener or that our Main Street is vibrant – you can still visit New Hope every day of the week and buy a house 10 minutes south from our district’s border that will cost you 30% less. (avg. home price per sq foot in New Hope is $234 and in most school districts around us is 25-30% less. Newtown $195, Bensalem $157… and the difference per square foot grows more as the school rankings grow further apart – source http://www.trulia.com).
So Mr. Capriotti, it’s time to decide if you are here to protect our schools and our home values or if you are here to destroy our district and side with Melvin Band and Joe Schmoe above…
“Rose said that teachers recognize the district’s budgetary constraints, but are concerned about being able to keep pace with the cost of living.”
Last time I looked, the inflation rate was just above 1%. How hard is it to keep up with the cost of living? What about the taxpayers? Everytime our taxes go up, it is harder for us to keep up with the cost of living.
1% increase for someone making $50,000 would be $500 per year. We ALL should be ashamed of ourselves for considering that amount exorbitant. If you, Mr. Joe Schmoe, think that this is too much, then feel free to inform your boss at Joe Schmoe Industries that you don’t need any more cost of living wage increases for yourself.
I, on the other hand, bought a house here that almost doubled in price as people are rushing here because of our school district and I would like to keep it this way. As long as the teachers are requesting a modest raise I will be on their side. I really don’t understand how is it OK with you that the district is spending millions on construction and sport programs while refusing to pay our teachers??? How does that make any sense?
Mr. Menzi as a point of clarification. You do realize that the 1.5% increase is to an already established increase. The $50,000 rate raise would not be 1.5% it would be more than 7% and would vary between 5% and 9% in the following years.
So, I spent a few days researching and asking around about your inconceivable claim that you are giving raises ranging 5% to 9%.
And if that were true the teachers are not signing the contract… why???!
I also asked myself why were the teachers barred from posting a reply on the district’s website alongside the school board’s fantastical claims – especially since they are “…sharing information to give you a comprehensive, objective update on negotiations,” according to the letter from the board on the district’s website.
The truth of course is: Mr Capriotti, you are intentionally deceiving the readers of New Hope Free Press which is a clear violation of your fiduciary duty to the School District.
The raises you are pretending to dole out are for the duration of the contract.
5% over 4 years is really 1.25% per year well below the inflation rate AND you are raising the teachers’ health care contribution to such an exorbitant amount that the whole raise is eaten up PLUS they have to pay additional $ from their pocket. You are NOT offering raises – you are offering a net DECREASE.
Of course, Republicans don’t believe in Health Insurance, so I’m sure that some of our school board members will argue that teachers are not obligated to participate in the school’s health insurance plans….
Or as Ebenezer Scrooge would say “Bah humbug!”… “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
“Of course, Republicans don’t believe in Health Insurance.” That’s an interesting, blanket statement, Mr. Menzi. I’m a Republican. I believe in health insurance. I have health insurance. I, at one time, contributed to it under my employer’s health plan and now I cover the entire cost myself. Sorry, but the old days of complete coverage from your employer are over. Sad, but true.
Sandra, I’m sorry that you have to pay the entire cost of your Health Insurance. I understand that this is every Republican’s dream… no Social Security, no Medicare, no Health Insurance unless you are rich enough to afford all of these…But still, I wish you better luck in your future endeavors and hope that you will find an employer that values your education, skills and experience enough to offer you benefits. I admit that I have been fortunate to be gainfully employed for the last 25 years in a number of companies that offered generous benefits in order to retain the best and the brightest. And I wish the same for the schools that will shape our children’s future.
Inflation is 2.2% in the 12 months ending Nov 2017. Try keeping up. Poor Joe will have to forego a new Mercedes this year. Let me call you a whambulance.
Union negotiator Yana Rose says,” they[referring to teachers]miss their extracurricular work and the feeling of helping, teaching and guiding.”That is not true. What Mr. Rose doesn’t tell you is the fact that a huge number of teachers are actually doing extra curricular work earning over $600,000 a year paid for by the taxpayers.
What he also doesn’t tell you is the fact that their are teachers who take expensive college and post graduate courses 50% of which is paid for by the taxpayers.This enables these teachers to get a bump in their salaries. Next, Mr. Rose talks about teachers being concerned about keeping up with the cost of living? REALLY? I wonder is he referring to the 20 or so teachers who are making the maximum base salary of $113,000 and another 20 or so making at least $100,000. And remember there are teachers who get a chunk of that $600,000 which is pensionable.The people who are really concerned about keeping up with the cost of living are people like myself. I wonder what % of people in the schooldistrict are making over $100,000.And I wonder will Mr. Rose tell us his salary?
Help me understand how a salary of $113K is excessive in a school district with some of the highest property values and cost of living in the region. Help me understand how many teachers is that $600K spread out across. A $100K salary is puny compared to the income levels of the Porsche, Mercedes, and Range Rover residents in Solebury township.
Remind me again how much the district spends on the boys football program and complimentary title 9 girls sport that was brought back in 2008ish ?? There was a good reason NHS didn’t have this sport for 35 years and the demographic enrollment bubble those booster club parents rode to get this back on the books has evaporated too. Such a money pit.