After hearing from both the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers and the Neshaminy School Board, Bucks County Judge Robert Baldi directed both sides to more frequently.
"Both sides are really trying to reach an end point," Baldi said in court Tuesday.
The union and school board agreed on 10 more dates to meet to negotiate. The negotiation dates are as follows:
- August 16, 29 and 30
- September 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27
"I expect those meetings to continue no matter what," Baldi said. He added that regardless of illness or the lack of neutral mediator, that both sides should maximaize the members that can make it to the meeting.
The school board's attorney, Charles Sweet, said that the board will meet with or without a mediator, but that would alter the nature of the meeting. The union and school board often will meet face to face and then go into separate rooms with the state mediator going back and forth.
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Aside from ordering both sides to meet more often, Baldi said that he is not going to become personally involved in the impasse, despite the union's attorney Marc Gelman originally proposing that the court appoint a mediator to sit in the negotiations.
Following the judge's order, Gelman said that the union is concerned that, in the event of another teachers strike, the school board will again refuse to hold negotiations. But Baldi said that those negotiation dates should go forward.
"We hope that we don't have to find out," school board President Ritchie Webb said of the possibility of another strike. Sweet said that the dates will go on if there is another strike, but the board members won't necessarily have to be there and that Sweet himself would represent the board.
Prior to the judge handing down his decision, the board's counsel presented the judge with a letter that was provided to the NFT Monday, August 13. This letter offered for Sweet to make himself available for every day, all day bargaining with the union with the condition that the NFT's attorney Thomas Jennings be present at all of the meetings.
This offer, however, was denied by Baldi.
"I'm trying to give you all tools available to you to use in negotiations. I'm trying to step back and insist that you continue to negotiate," Baldi said.