Fact Finder: T/E Taxpayers are Rich - Pay Up

The state fact finder hired to look at both sides in the the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District teacher contract negotiations tells T/E taxpayers that they're wealthy and should pay up.

The state fact finder hired to make a recommendation for a T/E School District teachers contract says the taxpayers in TE are wealthy and the district should put up more money to support some of what the teachers are asking seeking.

The fact finder is not a mediator per se, but serves a similar function by trying to find common ground between two sides in a labor contract negotiation. Unlike a mediator the fact finder comes up with a settlement without acting as a go-between for talks.

The fact finder in this case is Timothy Brown.  In his report, Brown makes comments about the T/E District being among the wealthiest in the state. At several points in the report Brown recommends that the T/E School District find the money for several areas where the district and union disagree.

For example, Brown's report says this about teacher salaries:

As an “outsider looking in” it appears to the undersigned that the District is relatively wealthy and that the School District is a jewel that provides not only a high level of education but also attracts residents to live within its geographical boundaries and thereby supports high property values.

Such should cause the District and its residents pause in considering any effort to underfund the District. Similarly, it cannot be the subject of honest debate that District employees have been and continue to face difficult personal economic conditions. The times demand prudence by all concerned. I believe it is a prudent and good investment for the District to recognize the reasonableness of the Union’s wage proposal, (although not necessarily agree to it) and the valuable contribution of its employees to the mission of the District..

While the details of the report are extensive, the bottom line is that in areas that are among the most important to the teachers: salaries, health insurance, and sick days, Brown basically says the School Board should  come up with more money, even if that means asking TE taxpayers for it.

You can read Brown's full report, plus the TEAA's and the T/E School District's response to it in the pdf files attached to the article.

The report is non-binding unless both sides agree to accept the findings without any changes. The union voted to accept the report. The T/E School Board voted to reject the report but will vote on it again on Monday, August 20.

Would you support higher school taxes to pay for teacher salaries and benefits? Tell us in the comments section below.

Monday on TE Patch: A closer look at the details of Brown's report and the areas where the TEAA and the T/E School District disagree.

Katherine August 19, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Its funny how you all talk about money but forget who will suffer. The kids will suffer if they can't fix this soon. I'm a bus driver and the things I hear about the teachers is great. They take the time to get to know the kids and how they learn to better teach them the way that's going to have most impact. Most of the teachers work more then a 12hr day for their students and not themselves. Most teachers don't have the big houses why cuz they can't afford them. They can't even collect unemployment in the summer or on breaks. They miss out on the pay and benefits. Don't judge them for staying up late and redoing their lesson plans cuz a few kids didn't get the lesson the first time.
Berwyn Neighbor August 20, 2012 at 03:40 AM
The starting salary in TESD is $50,250 for a new college graduate with only student teaching experience. The union doesn't represent them until they are hired. For 2012, the average salary on a staff of 440 is $ 83,208. 135 teachers were on the top step. If the schedule was frozen and the employees got their step raises, the increase would be 2.3% (that's with the 135 getting no raise). (Retirements not figured in). The PSERS contribution goes from 8.65 in 2012 to 12.36 for 2013. Let's not ignore that the budget issue for TESD exists despite a 3.4% scheduled tax increase for this school year. The kids will suffer if that's the goal. Teachers will "work to the contract" which means they will work for 7 :35 and call it done. But that's all they will contract for anyway. If we asked them to contract to work 8 hours, they would want more money. Professionals paid hourly. It is nonsense to suggest that our district does as well as it does only due to our teachers. It's a whole system. Teachers retire and new teachers come. The kids come through in 13 years. It's a social contract to pay taxes, and a negotiated contract to work here. What we need to recognize is not what teachers are paid, but what they cost. Their salary plus 6.2% for FICA, 12.36% for PSERS, and $20,000 for health care. Personal days, 12 sick days, extensive time off (paid) for union business. And yet, all they bargain about is on base salary and a few more dollars towards their premiums.
Working Mom August 20, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Katharine - the teachers work for a salary not an hourly pay. So they still "earn" money over the summer while they are off. And they also have the option of earning more money over the summer ( as many do) working full time in a secondary job. - Yes I am sure that many are trying to meet their bills and the summer position helps them do this. But they are compensated for the full year. In addition, most people who have a "salary" position do not just work 7.5 or 8 hours a day - they too put in much more time. I have several teachers inmy family so I know both sides of the story. But when you look at their total compensation, salary, benefits, bonus, paid time off. These teachers are more than fairly compensated and there is no reason why they should want unemployement in the summer. Everything is still covered. And they should be doing the best job for all of our children.
Barbara Alexander August 20, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I am commenting as a senior citizen. There are a lot of us in TE and most of us are not among the "wealthy". The continuation of increased taxes while our incomes do not is of great concern. Like many of our friends, we are considering moving out of the state all together because of all the local, country and state taxes that increase year after year. You can take all the statistics you want but the bottom line is that unions want more and more and give up less and less. I wonder how many of the teachers live in TE. I say, NO to any increase. Maybe we should offer less "fun elective" courses like photography, video making, guitar, dance and on and on. These all cost money. When I went to high school, back in the dark ages, we didn't have electives and we all got great educations.
Laura August 22, 2012 at 03:53 AM
This "fact finder" has no credibility - calling the district "wealthy" is unprofessional and wrong. There are some people who are quite comfortable but there are many who work hard and get by. He is obviously biased and it is disgraceful. In addition, there are many teachers who work hard and do a great job in T/E. That being said, with their salaries and benefits, are they really going to leave? I doubt it. If they want to go, godspeed but good luck finding a similar gig in this economy.


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