Monday’s Octorara Board work session meeting was rather light in comparison to some others. There were no presentations, informational items, or visitor comments. Eight Board members were in attendance. Mr Lapp was absent.
The presentation of the agenda items to be voted on October 19th included very little of note. The board will be approving a stipend for a grant to purchase “BubbleBalls,” and also a student activity called “Fusion, in addition to routine personnel actions.
The one truly significant action will be the vote on the collective bargaining agreement by and between the Octorara Area School District and the Octorara Education Association, PSEA/NEA for the term of July 1, 20014 through June 30, 2018.
I would not expect much debate next week regarding the new teacher’s contract. You may get some Board members making statements why they are voting this way or that. Other than why they are voting one way or another, there is not much to say.
There is nothing in dispute here. The District’s Negotiation Committee worked to get the best deal possible. That is without doubt. The Negotiation Committee did as much as they could without drawing a hardline in the sand, and going to extremes. The question each Board member will have to ask themselves is this best deal actually a good deal for students and taxpayers?
I will be spending the next week considering my vote. I have been critical of past Boards making decisions without considering the greater economy, and the impact to taxpayers. Those that have been paying attention know that this year has been the worst year for Wall Street since the 2008 economic collapse, and some experts are stating the world is sliding back into recession. with some even predicting another full blown crash. Which way do you vote if you think the economy is tanking again?
The Obama Administration likes to talk up the 5.1% unemployment rate, but ignores the fact that Labor Force Participation Rate has dropped from 65.7% at the end of the Great Recession (identified as June 2009) to 62.4% in September 2015. So, the unemployment rate really hasn’t improved, people have just stopped looking for work. Also, median annual household incomes—after adjusting for inflation—are going down, not up. In fact, under the “Obama Recovery”, poverty in America is at a 50 year high, and Chester County has not been immune.
So…. what to do, what to do? Passing this deal will have consequences, and not passing the deal will have consequences. It is all about which consequences are the least bad—at least from my point of view. Does that make sense?
I don’t know how much struggling with this vote the other Board members are doing—if they are even struggling with it at all. I suspect the agreement will pass easily. However, whichever way I vote will be the way I vote. My vote will be based on what I believe is most beneficial, and provides the greatest good to students and taxpayers, which may or may not agree with a majority. I’m not there yet, and I may not be there till the day of the actual vote.