Bucks County Judge Robert Baldi reviewed both the Neshaminy School Board and Neshaminy Federation of Teachers' different views Thursday in regards to why there has been a lack of progress in contract negotiations and concluded that a new approach was needed to reach a resolution.
According to NFT President Louise Boyd, that new approach could be in the form of personal assistance from William Gross, the Director of the Bureau of Mediation, who "could provide a different and new skilled perspective to the deadlock."
Lawyers for both sides met with Baldi Thursday in a chambers conference, at the suggestion of the court, to evaluate how the court could render assistance to the parties consistent with the law.
Baldi could not get in touch with Gross yesterday, but Boyd said that he left Gross a "detailed" voicemail message asking him to reach out to both sides.
Following the conference with Baldi, the school board and union met in their 49th negotiation session where the board asked the NFT, through a mediator, to contribute 15 percent toward their health care premium.
School Board President Ritchie Webb said that this is the same amount that the district's custodians, bus drivers and secretaries pay toward their health care.
"A 15 percent healthcare premium contribution allows the district to offer both salary and step 'educations credits' in the amount of $3.2 million, which the board would be willing to do," he said.
In addition, the board also presented the NFT with a new proposal, which left the union "bitterly disappointed," Boyd said.
"We quickly saw that the promised 'complete new proposal' was nothing more than a rehash of the same offer that the Board has been making for nearly five years," she stated, noting that the only difference it contained "a new exhibit restating the same offer" and that "no other substantive offer was made."
Although some progress was made in this Wednesday's negotiation session, Boyd said that the NFT "remain disappointed at the slow pace of progress in the talks."
This is the fifth year Neshaminy has started a school year without a new teachers contract. Teachers and certified staff have been working under the terms of the contract that expired in 2008, which includes free health care.
Both sides will meet in their next negotiation session September 6.