Octorara Board to Vote on Collective Bargaining Agreement


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.


5 thoughts on “Octorara Board to Vote on Collective Bargaining Agreement

  1. Even when the news of the OASD Board’s actions and machinations are not really all that controversial and newsworthy, as in the case at hand, there you are, Tim, still dutifully reporting — which of course is unique among the Board, for whom the notions of accountability, fiscal prudence, and communications with constituents seem largely alien. For most if not all of those other Board members the idea seems to be: you snooze you lose. If you don’t come to meetings, well that’s your problem, we don’t have any other responsibility to let you know what we are doing.

    And in a strict sense they are right. There is nothing that requires them to do what you do, which is to go above and beyond, to reach out and make your best effort to communicate with constituents, to let them know what is going on.

    Let’s remember that all Board members are volunteers, receiving no compensation for their time and service. And let’s thank them for that. And let’s also remember that it is largely a thankless job. But let’s not forget that their civic-mindedness does not and should not shield them from criticism, especially when OASD’s per-student costs are among the highest in the nation, when student performance is at best only so-so, and when most taxpayers are screaming for relief.

    It’s interesting, intriguing, and I think telling, that in your post you said you would have to take some time to consider the pros and cons of the matter, that you had no knee-jerk reaction to the issue. I wonder how many of your fellow Board members ever give similar, broad brush and big picture, critical consideration to whatever the matter at hand. How many ever ask themselves: can the taxpayers afford it? How many, like government in general, blithely assume that wishes and desires should be paramount and prevail, and the practicalities of how to pay for it…well, not so much.

    C. Vail

    P.S. Speaking of outreach and communications, I believe the Board does post video of its meetings somewhere on the net. I once, only once, checked it out. The video images were beyond amateurish, and the audio was largely unintelligible. I found the experience only slightly less worthwhile than attending a Board meeting in person.

  2. Tim; From your comments above about the economy it seems you read more than the main stream media provides on tv.I find that you do more than the average person in reporting the truth. I was pleasantly surprised and glad that others do read alternative news sites for the truth in a world of deceit and lies. Thanks again

    • Thanks. I do consume a lot of news, much of it focused either on politics or business, but I do not read alternative news sites. All the information is there in the regular news outlets. The problem is, in my opinion, that many people can’t distinguish the difference between news reporting and news commentary. The facts of our economic situation are available, even if sometimes obscured by a lot of opinion. However, business news outlets are much more focused on facts and data. It is important for those news sources not to gloss over data showing workforce participation is the lowest it has been since the 1970s, that incomes have gone lower, and the stock market has been in decline since the beginning of March.

      The foreclosure and credit crisis began in 2007. Since that time, incomes are down 6.5%, there are record numbers of people on food stamps, and we have a 50 year record for people under the poverty line. So, where are the bailouts for the people most affected by the poor decisions made by government? …and the housing bubble is all tied back to the Clinton Era policies to “encourage” banks and mortgage companies to make mortgage loans easier.

      So, how do we ask taxpayers to keep giving more when they have less?

  3. Tim; I agree the foreclosure and credit crisis began in 2007. The biggest problem the country needs to get rid of the federal Reserve most people believe it is part of the government it is a private entity .;”We have, in this country, one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board. This evil institution has impoverished the people of the United States and has practically bankrupted our government. It has done this through the corrupt practices of the moneyed vultures who control it.” — Congressman Louis T. McFadden in 1932 (Rep. Pa)

    • Have you ever read The Creature from Jekyll Island? I think it is out of print, but Amazon has it used. The book explains how the Federal Reserve was created specifically for the proposes of ensuring the banks always win.

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