In the 66th negotiation session, the Neshaminy School Board and Neshaminy Federation of Teachers met for more than three hours Thursday night, but never face to face -- the mediator chose to conduct separate discussions.
School Board President Ritchie Webb said the board entered the meeting with "a sincere sense of urgency to move the process forward, but we were disappointed by the NFT's apparent disregard for the situation and unpreparedness to tackle the important issues."
Webb also said the school board conveyed to the mediator its desire to address the most significant issues separating the both sides, including as past practice.
However, Webb said, when the mediator returned to the room after meeting with the NFT, he could only share "the more trivial issues that union leaders were willing to discuss."
The mediator urged the school board to not pull its offer, but rather to continue to meet in more negotiation session. After some consideration, the board agreed to another meeting February 6 and again February 13, if necessary.
"We remain convinced that the board's final offer is in the best interests of the teachers and our students, and we hope the union leaders will allow the membership an opportunity exercise its right to vote on a settlement. However, if NFT negotiators continue to drag out talks without progress such as we saw this evening, then regrettably the teachers may never get that chance.
We feel for the Neshaminy community, its children and our teachers. And the board continues to demonstrate its good faith by agreeing to further discussions with the NFT. We now look to union leaders to reestablish their commitment to ending this impasse."