This topic contains 14 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Icanread 1 week, 2 days ago.
Feb 25, 2014 at 1:37 pm #160442
What does anyone think of this mess? Did the outgoing school board members screw over the public by voting in the big raises? Could they save some money by cutting administrative positions, secretaries, and coaches? Just asking.Feb 27, 2014 at 5:49 am #161791
The partial answer my friend is that the school board voted on a contract with 2% per year raises for the next 4 years. Take 2% of say a $80,000 salary or $63,000 or $47,000 and there you have the raises for older, middle, and young teachers. How can you break a contract that was agreed to and signed off on? I have no clue what they are doing there in Blackhawk.Feb 27, 2014 at 4:45 pm #161792
If you’ve watched the school board meetings (thanks Matt Young, they’re on the school website). The board didn’t even compute how much impact the raises would have on the budget over three years. They just asked Michelle Miller and the Business Manager if the school district could afford the raise, and they said, “Yes.” If the answer is really “no,” the Business Manager needs to go the way of Michelle Miller. So should any remaining school board members who voted for the raises. This will result in a significant increase in taxes and maybe layoffs.
And I don’t believe their fancy pants, Stanford attorney. There’s no way out of this contract. Both sides bargained in good faith. The school board just didn’t do their due diligence. Cut your losses, cut teachers if you need to, but don’t waste taxpayer money on litigation that will go nowhere.@epicshoolboardfailMar 2, 2014 at 10:28 am #163942
If you are interested in getting more information on the topic Parents for Blackhawk Teachers has created a Facebook page with lots of information.Mar 6, 2014 at 5:35 pm #165936
Hi, I am the creator of the aforementioned facebook page….and I think it is very important to remember this issue is entirely about rescinding a contract illegally which is in turn going to be expensive for the schoolboard to litigate and more than likely come out on the losing end. The board and their cronies have been using scare tactics to try to make the public think it is in dire straights the fact of the matter is while we need to be prudent in spending in the district this was a fair good faith negotiation that should have never been rescinded. We contend that the legal advice they received is faulty, and this conflict will be a detriment to finding a new superintendent….the teachers and communities trust were broken in the new board second month of serving and a way to build that bridge back would be to reinstate the contract. One note we have a cash reserve that is there for a reason although it is nice to have a cushion school districts are not a for profit so if there is extra it means at some point we were overtaxed so either give it back to the taxpayers like Scott Walker did or put it into funding our teachers contracts.Mar 6, 2014 at 11:00 pm #167265
Nice. You most definitely aren’t a for profit business. You have a little savings and feel the right thing to do is immediately inflate your costs. Make sure you stay in a non profit government job. You couldn’t last anywhere else.Mar 10, 2014 at 8:56 am #169280
@melissaZiegler I don’t think the school board is wrong to consider the realities of the budget and the potential effect on tax rates of the teacher raises. They obviously should have done it in September, but that was a different school board, a lame duck school board either looking to screw over the public on their way out or relying on incorrect information from the business manager. Either way, the locals aren’t willing to pay higher taxes. The board knows that, and they are at least being realistic by discussing staffing cuts. In the end the teachers will get their raises, and cuts will be made. The easiest would be pre-school, the arts, and hopefully admin and support positions. When the secretaries are playing computer games during work hours, you know there’s room for staff reduction. Why are games even accessible on work computers? Anyway, it’s a contract issue, but one with consequences, no matter the outcome.Mar 11, 2014 at 2:52 am #169949
SILENCE!!! SILENCE Melissa Ziegler!!! Your Quote: “One note we have a cash reserve that is there for a reason although it is nice to have a cushion school districts are not a for profit so if there is extra it means at some point we were overtaxed so either give it back to the taxpayers like Scott Walker did or put it into funding our teachers contracts.”
I just about spilled my coffee at my desk on night turn shift reading that quote! Are you from Colorado? If not, you could have fooled me! Are you a fool? All school districts need an extra cushion of $$$ for unexpected expenditures. Why in the hell would you put it (an extra financial $$$ cushion) in the teachers contracts? That doesn’t help the school PROGRESS any. That doesn’t benefit the school children’s learning curve. I ask again, Are you from Colorado?
Take that money and hold on to it for a rainy day. For instance when there is a time for another tax increase in the future, you can put it towards the increase and cut down on that tax increase if it is due to teacher raises. Or if there is structure problems in the school you can get it repaired. Or if you need computers for the kids, or need to invest in educational tools that the teachers can use to teach with… use it for the benefits of the CHILDREN! Not padding someone’s pocket! Spend it on IMPROVING the school’s educational system – not padding some pockets just because you have a surplus! Now take your toke and hold the smoke and think about that. YOU’RE WELCOME!!!Jun 12, 2014 at 9:30 am #5933168
Our school board is out of control and at last tally while complaining of a $115,000 budget deficit in next years budget, they had reinstated a program that will cost in upwards of $150,00 to get back off the ground next year….do the math….but then on top they presented information in just a 6week time frame over $12,000 was spent fighting the teachers contract.Jun 14, 2014 at 9:04 am #5933206
First off, Icanread, thanks! I’m glad that people are able to watch the meetings at home, and I’m glad that there is talk of having the students do it, as it was meant to be. Additionally, I’m in the process of uploading the videos from the 9-12 and the 9-19 meetings so that community members can see the contract being approved. If you’re interested, please send me an email at email@example.com.
Now, the 2% that is in question was to be applied each year. As the universal law of compounding interest goes, Amount with Compounding = Principle * e^(rate*time). This comes out to be a little bit over 16% over the 4 years of the contract. A 16% pay increase is something that many professions dream of, but never achieve in a 4 year span. Additionally, Blackhawk teachers have a starting salary of around $47,000. This is $5,000 above the state average for all teachers. A fresh hire makes more than the average PA teacher. I value education dearly; however, the Blackhawk teachers already make more than the average.
I wrote a lengthy research paper on the logistics of the teachers’ contract, the legal aspect of rescinding a contract, and popular arguments made against the school board. I’d prefer not to repeat everything mentioned in it, so I’ll provide a link to it.
Ironically, this research paper was graded by the union leader. Surprisingly enough, he didn’t like it.
We should not be using a rainy day fund to support a legally questionable contract; it sets a precedent that the school district will be expected to follow. The only option if the contract wasn’t rescinded/is upheld it to cut teachers, increasing class sizes, and making people leave the district. This leads to a vicious cycle of less money for worse education.
I am APPALLED that people still throw Vo-Ag under the bus. They currently have around 33-35 students enrolled for the next year. This is OUTSTANDING considering the lack of attention it is given during scheduling, the teachers’ bias and usage of the phrase “those Ag kids,” and the fact that it hasn’t existed for over 2 years and thus doesn’t have many people who can take the second level course. It is around $80,000-$90,000 for the course, NOT $150,000. Not to mention that they raise most of the money for their materials themselves via the greenhouse and sausage sale. I won’t idly stand by while they are used as scapegoats time and time again.Jun 17, 2014 at 2:46 pm #5933329
I agree that the raise is excessive and that the old School Board passed it to screw over the public that voted them out and the challengers that won the school board seats. That said, I don’t agree that there is a legal leg to stand on to overturn the contract. How can you say the board was a lame duck in Sept. when the general election had not occurred? Mr. Oswald ran a strong write-in campaign to get Calabria re-elected that garnered many votes. Other people who lost their primaries could have done the same. I did find some of your legal arguments interesting, though. Thanks for doing that research. The Board will have to dip into the health fund surplus (if they are legally able), and lay-offs will occur.
I disagree about the importance of Teachers’ Unions. In other states where the strength of unions have been legislatively gutted, not only did teachers’ salaries and benefits plummet, but schools are cutting teachers to part-time if they do not have enough students enrolled in that subject. Quality teachers for tough subjects such as Physics and Latin and higher level Science would be even more difficult to attract with no guarantee of stability and tenure, and public school curriculums would diminish in quality. Hope that does not happen in Pennsylvania.
As for Vo-Ag, they should re-brand themselves as Environmental Science and add classes to justify that title. They could probably even get some Heinz Endowment grants.
Thanks for posting, keep up the good work, and good luck in college.Jun 22, 2014 at 9:18 am #5941010
C’mon get real
Anyone with an ounce of common sense understands how the rescinded contract was misrepresented – lied about! The emails presented at the meeting between the head of the union and negotiators including BEA president admitted that they didn’t want the public to know that they were really getting over a 4% increase not a 2%. I can’t figure this out. If they presumably made a MISTAKE why won’t they just rewrite the contract the right way. OR WAS IT NOT A MISTAKE?! Who cares if about the taxpayers and the students. The head of the union will double dip since he is married to a teacher. They will get $2400 each so that means $$800.00 a year. So taxpayers, our hard earned money won’t go to education or security or clean water, a little will. The teachers, most of them, anyway, have been duped too. They were told “Don’t read it, just sign it.” Good work, Matt Young! Melissa Ziegler – who are you?Jun 23, 2014 at 1:13 pm #5949606
What I take from the emails read at the last board meeting is the teachers knew they could get a better deal under the old board and pursued it. The board members either did not understand math or just didn’t bother to read the contract. They relied on Calabria, Inman, May, and most of all Wessell to represent whether the contract was a good deal or not. The teachers realized the Board did not understand what was being signed, but it’s not their job to educate the other side during negotiations. The public has been screwed over by negligence, ignorance, and sneakiness. Still, nothing illegal happened.
At a minimum, any sitting board members who voted for that contract needs to go, and so should Wessell. They should really resign in shame. The teachers should be none too proud of their actions, either. It’s time for intelligent, responsible, careful community members to run for those Board positions.Jul 8, 2014 at 3:51 pm #5963246
I am the president of the Blackhawk Education Association, and I was also the English teacher who graded Matt Young’s research paper. I tell you that up front because I hate how people (Icanread, C’mon get real) can come onto a site like this and anonymously accuse me of double dipping, being sneaky, and otherwise behaving shamefully.
The emails sound sneaky because when you are negotiating a contract you keep a lot of secrets. You don’t share any details, even with the people who elected you to represent them, until you reach a tentative agreement and present it for a vote.
The idea that the old board tried to screw anyone (the new board, the public) is completely false. They wanted to secured labor peace and a contract that would be good for both sides.
The contract adds 2% to the existing salary schedule. That is like a cost of living raise. Younger teachers who are still moving up a step each year get an additional increase. That’s how salary schedules work at every public school in this state (and in many other workplaces). So 2% is no lie, but our teachers will see an average increase of 4.25% including their step movement. Before the contract was voted on, every teacher, board member, and administrator understood that.
Some of you are believing that this contract “screws over” the public. It’s just not true. Matt Young and several others predicted that this contract would lead to massive cuts in teachers and programs, yet our board just managed to pass a balanced budget that ADDS several teachers and includes the cost of the new contract. I guess we will have to keep waiting for the sky to fall.Jul 14, 2014 at 8:59 pm #5963371
Mr. McCowan, you failed to mention that the new budget includes a significant tax increase. As a taxpayer, that bothers me. You see the kids in your classrooms whose families struggle with money. Do you think you need the money more than they do? I’ve always been on the teachers’ side and of the opinion that the Board should back off and leave the contract intact, and despite your condescending attitude, one does not have to be a teacher to understand the subtleties of negotiating contracts, but the emails do not paint the negotiators in a positive light. I was honestly surprised and disappointed when they were presented at the board meeting. However, you are right (and I have repeatedly said), it was not your responsibility to educate the Board or Mr. Inman. You were negotiating for the best contract for your teachers.
I love the following website. The data is a couple years old, but if you want to see exactly how much teachers and administrators are making in your districts, look here:
Here’s another article about the Blackhawk contract:
Have a nice summer.