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School Board Accepts New Contract Agreement with Teachers

The amended contract slows down salary increases and offers an early retirement incentive to eligible teachers. The move helped the district close the final gap in the 2012-2013 budget.

After months of renegotiations, the Centennial School District and Centennial Education Association came to a new agreement Tuesday night that extends the to 2016 and gives the district better control over the cost of salaries.

The extensions slows down and spreads out the salary increase increments over four years, instead of two, with an dditional .25 percent increase in 2015-2016. According to a release provided by the school district, the renegotiated four year package costs Centennial only the equivalent of two-thirds of one step more than the original two year contract.

“Our membership is more dedicated to academic, athletic and arts excellence than ever,” said Centennial Education Association President Cheryl Tonkinson in a statement to the press.  “We know that tough decisions remain, but the Association very much wanted to be part of the solution."

The agreement also includes an early retirement incentive package for eligible teachers that will pay $10,000 a year for three years into a retirement savings medical account. A maximum of 12 teachers can take advantage of the offer this year by meeting the requirements before July 15, and a maximum of 18 teachers can do the same in June 2013.

School directors Jane Schrader Lynch and Betty Huf disagreed with the retirement incentives, forcing them to oppose the new agreement.

"With the economy the way it is right now," said Lynch, "I just cannot agree with using taxpayer money to create the incentive. It's not fair to the taxpayers."

Centennial Superintendent Dr. Jenny Cressman said the new salary structure and the reduction of a total 21 teachers helped the district reach a for 2012-2013. The school board will vote on the final budget at a special meeting on June 18 at 8:30 p.m.

Despite a 6-2 vote, with director Charles Kleinschmidt abstaining because his daughter works for the district, the board was unanimous in its appreciation for the union's willingness to come back to the table in light of the district's financial struggle.

"This agreement makes it easier for us to go forward," said director Michael Hartline, who called for a total reduction of 55 teachers at a . Hartline also expressed his gratitude for the work performed by Dr. Cressman and Centennial business administrator Chris Berdnik during negotiations.

Director Steve Adams was thankful for the cooperation between the teachers and the school district, implicitly referring to the ongoing turmoil happening in the Neshaminy School District.

According to the district, teachers will continue to pay into their healthcare benefits at increasing dollar amounts for all years of the contract.  Centennial’s rate is based on a formula that results in a premium share of approximately 12 percent for the lower plan for singles to the highest option of an approximate 21 percent premium share for families.

concerned123 June 13, 2012 at 04:12 PM
This is a totally joke. The Taxpayers are saving nothing. The money being paid into the medical fund totals over $ 800,000.00 Why are we paying any sort of bonuses? So they want to get rid of teachers so class sizes can be larger and the Children get less attention.....They just gives raises and bonuses and to pay for it they cut staff . This is how our board balances the budget, ? Pay raises do not include pay matrix steps which will raise a 1 percent raise alot higher. These are the tricks the board publishes so residents do not know the real average percentage amount. We can only blame ourselves for voting these board members in, They have no respect for the residents of Centennial. We have no input what so ever ! I am shocked to see members whom I thought had some financial sense like Mr Hartline and Mr Miller approve such a deal....
Warminster Resident June 13, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Funds might total over 800,000. However, some of these individuals will be retiring 2 to 5 years earlier than they were originally intending with this incentive. Do the math: A teacher making over $100,000 retiring even two years earlier than planned saves money. Would you rather pay a teacher $300,000 to retire in three years, or $30,000 to retire now? Please use your brain.
Pamela June 13, 2012 at 05:14 PM
So we have a new salary structure and a reduction of currently 21 teachers. Along with a maximum of 12 teachers who can take advantage of the offer this year by meeting the requirements before July 15, and a maximum of 18 teachers who can do the same in June 2013. So is CSD losing potentially 21 teachers or 51 teachers????? And if it is 51 teachers where is the savings since Mr. Hartline originally called for a reduction of 52 teachers??????
Pamela June 13, 2012 at 05:15 PM
ooops sorry 55 teachers???
Pamela June 13, 2012 at 05:20 PM
that's right because you don't have to replace the retiring teachers. Increase the number of children in the classrooms and our blue ribbon education is gone forever..We didn't want that honor anyway.
Warminster Resident June 13, 2012 at 06:36 PM
It is a common misconception that larger class sizes always lead to poorer learning. In fact, lowering class size with no data to support it has actually been shown to have zero effect on achievement. Much more important is an effective teacher in the classroom. While I'm certainly not saying that classes of 50 students are just as effective as classes of 5, people put much too much time and energy into harping that small class sizes are the only way students can learn effectively.
Steve G June 13, 2012 at 06:58 PM
It is a shame that when the residents/taxpayers spoke at School Board meetings last year and suggested to the Board, that they could not fund the contract that they were going to approve, the BOARD AS USUAL DID NOT LISTEN TO THE TAXPAYERS. This again demonstrates the arrogance and lack of fiscal understanding of our School Board. I am glad to hear that the Centennial Education Association could understand the severity of Centennial's fiscal troubles and agreed to work and compromise with the School District. It is sad that class sizes must increase and the quality of education that our children receive must go down due to teacher downsizing. I and many others believe that it is time for Board Members Lynch and Huf to retire from the board and be thanked for their years of service. You need new members with fresh ideas that are more in touch with the needs and priorities of the district.
southampton parent June 13, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Warminster resident, many years ago it was proven at McDonald school that the classrooms with less children learned better and got more attention from the teachers. That was in the Courier Times approx. 10yrs or so. you put 30 kids in a class with disruptions there is no control nor can the children truely get a grasp on their work. We do not need Classrooms with more than 20 kids in them. I had kids in 4th grade with 8 boys who were so disruptive and out of control that this year was a waist for my children and they did not do well. we need to keep the classrooms smaller. we have these new schools now and over 800 kids going to Davis with only 4 teachers a grade. NOT GOOD
Any Intelligent Life Forms out there? June 14, 2012 at 12:24 AM
I think we need to complain to the State or Government Department of Education to have EVERY SINGLE PENNY AUDITED to see what is actually going on. I have had enough with their irresponsibility, arrogance, and lack of judgment. In one pocket we have no money for buses or teachers, in the other its bottomless for football fields, diving boards, sound systems, and other NON ESSENTIAL GARBAGE. Earth to School Board members: Buses and Teachers are important. Diving boards, battery backups, football fields, sound systems ARE NOT.
THT June 14, 2012 at 01:03 AM
I am also glad that the Centennial Education Association and the Board can work together. As a taxpayer/parent, I am reassured in our district. It was nice to see cooperation at work. I'm glad that neither side has brought public humiliation and embarrassment to our community like Neshaminy has to theirs.
Dalia June 14, 2012 at 04:32 AM
I'm pretty sure some of those things you listed as "nonessential garbage" are necessary. For example, would you prefer the the district be sued for an obscene amount of money over an old diving board? Pretty sure the diving boards cost less than a lawsuit. So new diving boards are necessary. Yes buses and teachers are important, but so is safety.
Carol Ann June 14, 2012 at 07:26 AM
Are in-school sports teams state mandated? What percentage of students are members of school sponsored sports teams? Why are children that live within a mile of school bused? Is exercising their legs for a few blocks going to endanger their health? Since we're paying to bus every child, why are any students allowed to bring their cars to school? Why are hundreds of parents allowed to drive their kids to school every day? ................. Parents of children interested in sports should be funding these endeavors, not taxpayers. ............. Any if school buses consistently arrive less than full, the routes need to be revised.
Carol Ann June 14, 2012 at 07:27 AM
Up here in The Poconos, the population is growing faster than in other Pa counties despite student enrollment going down since 2008. In Pleasant Valley School District, for instance, enrollment has dropped by 3,000 students but, guess what, the school board claims payroll and pension considerations are to blame for increasing School Property Tax. The 2012 budget is rubbing $94,000,000. with about 800 employees. ............... IF you are a property owner - learn more at www.ptcc.us BEFORE deciding whether you want to continue to pay that 75% of your total property tax bill every year - for the rest of your life - or keep that [average] $4,000. a year in your pocket. ............. Then, contact your Pennsylvania State Legislature, "The Easy Way" via www.congress.org and tell them, what you think they should do!
Pamela June 14, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Actually since this mess has started Lynch and Huf have been the only originally members to consistently vote AGAINST this out of control spending. I would look to the voting record of Miller and Pollock if you want to see which original members have voted for this increase cost to the tax payer.
concerned123 June 14, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Thanks Carol....Everyone should take a look at act 1776. I signed up. Our school board plays a dog and pony show with the Taxpayers of Centennial. There are really no savings, We will not see are taxes ever lowered. They will just keep going up and wait till we see the pension fund hit us soon.They approved the contract last year and it was unfunded . The business manager stood up and gave debt predictions every year and the board still approved it, We need some reform, The system has gotten out of control and the unions just want more and more.
Pamela June 14, 2012 at 01:12 PM
We are not busing every student to school. The only students, who live with in 1 mile of a school and are are bused , are those students where it is a danger for them to walk. This would be those road that do not have walk ways and the children would be required to walk in the street. Also I believe any major street that does not have a crossing guard such as Street road. I work 45 mins away from school. If my child took the bus, I would be late to work every day. So yes, I drive my child to school. The number of high school students who drive to school everyday cuts down on the number of students who need to ride the bus. Please remember that a good portion of these young adults have part time jobs that they travel to directly from the high school. Most of the parent have children in sports that are not school sponsored are pay dues for those sports. I believe the swimming pool is used by the WREC for their classes which is payed by fee of the participants. As far as bus routes, well that is another area of contention that is developed by a computer program. Please remember that parents are community members and taxpayers also.
THT June 14, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Concerned - The House Bill 1776 got tabled this past week. Just so you were aware. It will probably never see the light of day. If you are concerned, you should direct your vitriol to the General Assembly.
Carol Ann June 14, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Busing: Every municipality in America claims an easement [right-of-way] along every town and state road. This is at least eight (8) feet wide and provides plenty of room for students to safely walk along. Because I care about my fellow residents, I voluntarily maintain the 8' x 300' township easement along my front yard so, everyone can walk, ride their bikes, jog, walk their dogs, etc. without being forced into the street. ....... In most communities across the USA, school districts are the biggest, most expensive, largest budgeted employment entity and while holding the property owners/townships in their hands, school boards can/should convince property owners to maintain their road frontages. .............. Every time school boards jack our taxes up, they claim, "It's for the children" so, why all the excuses? .......... It's hard for me to grasp that children can wonder all over their neighborhoods to/from their friends' homes, to/from the mall, in & out of every place else, two-by-two and/or in groups on the weekends but Monday to Friday, they must be catered to as toddlers. ...........
Carol Ann June 14, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Teach kids to behave safely and let them learn self confidence and independence. ....... Parents that drive their kids to school are cheating their kids out of learning to grow up with some bit of self-respect/self-reliance. ......... Students that are provided parking spaces on school property are wasting millions of taxpayer dollars. ......... About 100 years ago, townships, towns, and cities all across America started passenger train and/or bus systems. Today in almost every community there exists such public transportation. ............ In Pennsylvania, it costs at least $12,000./yr. per student in the public school system. but, since School Property Taxes only average about $4,000./per property, the tax can only go up as expenses increase. ............... This has been a losing battle for property owners ever since one-room schoolhouses were replaced by multi-million dollar campuses.
Carol Ann June 14, 2012 at 08:20 PM
The PTCC has been fighting for several years to get rid of Pennsylvania's School Property Tax. While your mortgage servicer is about to pay $1,000-$9,000 your School Property Tax bill, consider that, for one, your mortgage servicer charges you a monthly fee for collecting and escrolling your taxes, then, there's the tax money being held somewhere while somebody other than you is making money off your money. ......... And, finally, your hard-earned money is being handed over to a school board that will spend it all in the name of "The Children". ........... Just read what I and the PTCC are offering as an alternative BEFORE you decide. www.ptcc.us
Tired of Hypocrisy June 15, 2012 at 03:34 AM
I do not mean to sound disrespectful but with the construction of the new McDonald School, the walking path to the old McDonald is completely blocked off. The children could walk on sidewalks for part of their trip to school but not all the streets have sidewalks or 'walking easements'. The children in the neighborhood have never been bused prior to this year. It is for their safety, not as a means to pamper them. They cannot walk among active bulldozers, dump trucks, electrical trucks, etc., and nor should they be expected to. The CSD decided to build all the new schools, they should have thought about how the children would get to school. I personally have never seen a 5 year old, 6 year old, 7 year old, 8 year old in our area walking to a mall (it would be about a 10 mile walk) nor to any stores (1 1/2 miles). I do not mind paying taxes for the safe transportation of children to/from schools. I do mind a district that makes decisions that are arrogant and not based on honest studies. There was no need for CSD to rearrange the entire district and displace students and spend much more money than was needed, especially in the time of a recession. They are competing with neighboring districts which is ridiculous.

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