Neshaminy School Board President Ritchie Webb has consistently assured the community that the board will not agree to a new contract that includes "equal voice" or "past practice." However, during Thursday night's negotiation session, the board and Neshaminy Federation of Teachers came to a compromise on equal voice.
During the first negotiation session of 2013, most of the time was spent working to "refine a list compiled by the Federation of 69 items that are either unresolved or required clarification," as stated in a press release. During the face-to-face discussions, both sides agreed that more than a third of the items on the list could be considered resolved based on developments at the previous meeting on December 18.
Through the state mediator, the school board and union exchanged proposals that addressed the issue of teacher voice on school committees, also referred to as equal voice.
After extensive discussion among both teams, the NFT and school board "reached a tentative agreement on language that settles the issue." According to NFT leaders, the language required mutual compromise.
"We were absolutely unwilling to agree to anything that completely compromised the professional voice of our members in decisions that affect our students and our day-to-day work," NFT President Louise Boyd said in a press release.
"The language we settled on clearly removes any reference to 'equal say' and makes it clear that the district has final decision-making authority, but it preserves the critical role of teachers in school-based decision-making," she stated.
Boyd also stated that Webb assured the union repeatedly "that he recognizes and respects the meaningful input of staff in our district and the language we ultimately agreed to is a reflection of that viewpoint."
The NFT and school board scheduled another bargaining meeting for next Thursday, January 24.