School Board Statement
The Upper Darby Board of School Directors released a statement at the School Board Meeting on Tuesday, January 8th addressing the status of the UDEA Contract Negotiations. The statement was read by President Rachel Mitchell on behalf of the entire School Board:
"I wanted to take this opportunity to provide the members of the community an update on the status of negotiations with the Upper Darby Education Association. As you are aware, about one month ago, the Teachers Union voted to reject a tentative agreement between the parties. Since that time, representatives of the Board have met with the Union on a number of occasions to discuss ways to resolve the impasse between the parties. The two parties met over the holidays for a number of hours, and currently continue to talk. We hope to get back to the table with the teachers shortly.
As these negotiations continue, it is important to be mindful of our desire, as representatives of this community, to enter into a new collective bargaining agreement that strikes two key balances; the first being a fair contract with the teachers, and the second being a contract that is sustainable for our tax paying community. As a reminder to everyone in the community, the revenue that we derive comes from state, local and federal sources. However, what has been clear in many of our past discussions, revenue is severely lacking within the District, and we are limited in the amount of local revenue we can generate. As many of you know, our ability to raise taxes is capped under the state law Act 1 of 2006. If you have been following the changes within the Act 1 limits over the last few years, our ability to raise taxes has, in fact, decreased over the past couple of years. Therefore, the ability to obtain additional revenue has gone down for the District. Moreover, notwithstanding our limits on the ability to raise revenue through taxes, the millage rate within the Upper Darby community is already very high. In fact, it is the sixth highest in the county. Therefore, when we take into consideration raising taxes, we need to be mindful that our community is already paying some of the highest taxes within Delaware County.
Finally and certainly one of the most concerning aspects of District finances over the next five to ten years is our significant capital needs with regard to our facilities. The most recent quarterly update totaled our facility needs at $110,000,000. This number is strictly considering the current conditions of our existing buildings. This does not include athletic fields or the eventual outcome of our facility study, which will certainly increase the previously stated amount.
It goes without saying that the Board must be mindful of multiple needs within the District, whether it be facilities, curriculum, special education, as well as compensating our teachers fairly. Therefore, as we enter into the final phase of getting to a new contract with the teachers, hopefully we can strike a balance between these needs in order to enter into a sustainable contract for the District for years to come."