NEWTOWN SQUARE–For the first time in 32 years, the teachers' contract in Marple Newtown School District was accepted by the Marple Newtown Education Association (MNEA) and approved by school officials at the reorganization meeting on Monday night.
Vice President of the MNSD School Board Nancy Galbraith–who is also chair of the Delaware County Intermediate Unit–shared that people at the Intermediate Unit were shocked that they could receive an "early bird" contract. Galbraith thanked TJ Gretchen, president of the MNEA, teachers, and her fellow colleagues for making it happen.
"This just isn't happening in this climate, so I'm really proud of this school district," said Galbraith.
School Board Director Fred Dewey also shared the same sentiments and said the new contract was "well deserved."
"I like the fact that it's timely. I think the fact that you [MNEA] work with us so nicely when the times were tough, it's very much appreciated by this board and I very much thank you," said Dewey.
The board approved the acceptance of the teachers' contract 8-1 with School Board President Kathryn Chandless holding the lone nay.
"I genuinely agree and I'm glad that the union and the board were able to reach an agreement. I also genuinely agree that teachers in the district deserve the percentage increase they're getting and have worked with us really hard every day and so, I don't want my vote against this to be construed as the fact that I don't feel like the teachers deserve an increase," explained Chandless.
Chandless said her main concerns about the collective bargaining agreement with the teachers' union was "whether enough was been done to affect some sort of long-term change to the salary structure and that is the only reason that I would disagree on."
In an email to Marple Newtown Patch, Gretchen responded favorably–on behalf of the MNEA–in regards to the new contract:
"I am pleased that the members of the Marple Newtown Education Association and the Marple Newtown Board of School Directors have ratified a new contract. Both groups voted overwhelmingly in favor of it. We can all now move forward with what is most important, namely educating the children of this community.
This agreement represents a milestone in that it is the first contract ratified before the expiration of the previous contract since 1980. The CBA (collective bargaining agreement) comes on the heels of two contracts over the past four years where teachers have agreed to make concessions that have included a total pay freeze this year, three step freezes, the delaying of salary increases based on earning additional college credits or advanced degrees, and increased co-payments for prescription drugs.
The Marple Newtown School District has avoided large scale layoffs and demotions thanks in part to these concessions made by the members of the Marple Newtown Education Association. These actions have helped to maintain the number of classroom teachers in the district which ultimately enhances the quality of the education the children of this community receive and deserve.
Some of the specifics of the new agreement include a retirement incentive, step movement for teachers during both years, and a one-time bonus for members at the top of the salary schedule. On behalf of MNEA, I would like to thank the board of school directors for getting this fair and equitable contract settled in a timely manner."