Here we go again. Yesterday the Pottsgrove School District reached an agreement with the local teachers union on a new contract. The details are, as Evan Brandt of The Mercury writes “not being released until votes on both sides of the negotiating table make the agreement permanent.”
You can pretty much count on reading Brandt’s line, or some variation of it, in any story about a collective bargaining deal brokered in Pennsylvania. Leaving taxpayers as the last to know is a common practice across the commonwealth. Although, to their credit, the Pottsgrove school district did make an effort to involve the public during the process:
…the administration and board released details of their proposal to the teachers publicly at the Oct. 13 school board meeting, bringing the public even closer to the bargaining table.
Subsequently, in a letter to the public, Superintendent Shellie Feola and School Board President Justin Valentine issued a letter to the community with a comparison of the two proposals, calculating that the teacher plan would cost taxpayers $1 million more over the course of a four-year proposal than the district’s offer.
The district’s efforts are admirable, but they fall short of the type of transparency needed and required by Senate Bills 644 & 645. Together, the bills require state government and local governments, including school districts, to publicize the terms and costs of collective bargaining agreements before ratification.