The Board will address all issues related to the teacher contract in an open and honest manner. This blog has been set up as a public resource for explanations about the contract and the negotiation process. The Board feels it is important to address the concerns expressed by Scott Broomall, UCFEA President at the March Board meeting. Mr Broomall raised the question of why the Board went public. The reasons behind the Board’s decision to go public and the process involved in making its public presentation are important to understand because it helps set the tone for ongoing dialogue.
There are two reasons why the Board chose to go public.
One, the practice of this Board has always been to conduct business in an open, honest and transparent manner. The Board wants all of the teachers and members of the community to understand the issues surrounding the contract. This type of openness and transparency has proven time and again to increase understanding and participation - leading to better outcomes.
Two, the teacher contract drives about ½ and influences another 20% of the district's expenses. The current negotiations will have a strong influence on the budget for the next three years. It is important to give the public information and a voice in a process that will affect their tax bills over the next three years and beyond.
From the start of the negotiations in December the Board expressed its interest in sharing information with the public and doing so in a cooperative manner. Going public is commonplace and has happened in other negotiations in Chester County. The union leadership requested a delay in public notification and the Board honored that request.
- On March 3, the Board informed the union leadership that it was time to share information with the public. The union leadership asked for a delay. The Board honored the request.
- On March 5, the Board provided the union leadership with its proposed public presentation. The union leadership requested changes to the presentation. The Board agreed to those edits.
- On March 10, the Board informed the union leadership that it would make its presentation public on Friday, March 13.
In the spirit of cooperation, not only did the Board honor the request for delaying several times, it also provided the union leadership with a copy of the document being considered for release to the public. Changes were made to the document based on the union leadership's input. The Board views this as an open and respectful way to approach the process.
It has been said that going public is an attack on teachers that demonizes them. The Board believes that characterization is unwarranted and trusts that an open and honest dialogue is good for all stakeholders. The Board appreciates the teachers in the district and agrees with the union leadership that we are fortunate to be part of a premier school district and that teachers are at the heart of our success.
It was also asserted that the Board is being selective with information disclosed. The Board approaches this conversation with a willingness to engage all stakeholders and answer all questions. The initial public presentation and union leadership’s response provide a platform for further dialogue and information sharing.
An information page has been created on the district website. Included on that page is the contact information for each Board member. Updates and clarifications will be posted there as well. The Board encourages openness and continued, respectful dialogue with the teachers and the union leadership team.