2019 Negotiations Information

value and respect

The Phoenixville Area School Board and the Phoenixville Area Education Association (teachers union) share the common goal of providing a superior education for all of our students and families in the Phoenixville Area School District.  We are proud of the wide variety of services and programs in place to ensure every child receives what he/she needs to succeed.  We also know we must carefully allocate resources to ensure we remain the high performing District our families and community deserve and have come to expect.

The Board established four goals for negotiations
with the Phoenixville Area Education Association.

Compensation1.  Compensation
Keep the total compensation package within the Act I index.  We all want our teachers to be well-paid, but must offset that with the needs of our community.

Quality Programs2.  Quality Programs
Maintain or increase the high quality of programming we provide our students.

competitive salaries3.  Competitive Salaries
Keep salaries competitive with surrounding school districts.

Class Size4.  Class Size
Maintain small class sizes, with a low student to teacher ratio.

This document is an effort to provide clear, concise information to all of our stakeholders by detailing the financial priorities and challenges faced by the District. Balancing the needs of our students, parents, community, and staff is at the heart of all choices and decision-making.

The Phoenixville Area School Board and the Phoenixville Area Education Association have been in negotiation discussions since late fall of 2018. The negotiation sessions have been productive, as there is agreement on several issues including:
• Additional non-instructional time for special education teachers to develop Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for their students

• Dedicated time for teachers to prepare their classrooms and instruction prior to the first day of school

• Revised definition of long-term substitutes

• Streamlined guidelines for course reimbursements

• Change from 26 pays per year to 24 pays

• Addition of summer healthcare coverage for retirees

• Revision to healthcare coverage post-retirement for 25+ year teachers

Phoenixville Teachers

We value and respect our teachers.  We believe they are knowledgeable, dedicated, and hard working.

• Our teachers are the 3rd highest paid in Chester County.  Their salaries are higher than teachers working in West Chester, Downingtown, Owen J Roberts, Kennett, Avon Grove, Coatesville, Octorara, and Oxford.

• We expect our teachers to remain among the highest compensated in the area as we negotiate this contract.

• We provide an extremely generous healthcare plan, at a low cost to our employees.  The plan compares very favorably to those offered in the private sector as well as to other county school districts.  The plan includes medical, dental, prescription and vision benefits.

• The total compensation model includes teacher salary, PSERS contribution by the District, healthcare, and social security.

• Our teachers are contracted to work 190 days, 7 ½ hours per day, including a ½ hour lunch and designated prep time.
value and respect
salary comparison

Financial Priorities

• Maintaining low class sizes:  PASD’s class size guidelines are among the lowest in the county, and equal to or below the county average at every grade level.

• Maintaining and expanding the high quality educational offerings of our District.  This school year we added Full Day Kindergarten, Elementary STEM, an additional Strings teacher, Curriculum Coaches, and additional Special Education and English Language Development teachers.  Many of these additions were the result of input from our faculty/staff.

• Competitive Salaries for all our staff:  61% of the PASD annual budget is dedicated to salaries, benefits, PSERS and social security.

• Keeping taxes affordable: The Board seeks to keep taxes affordable while ensuring that its employee salary proposals are regionally competitive.   The Board of School Directors recognizes its obligation to the tax payers as well as its employees.  PASD has the 4th lowest median household income in the county, yet our teachers are paid more than those in much wealthier school districts.

See the chart below for a more detailed explanation.

Median Household Income vs. 2019-20 Teacher Salary Masters +45

Financial Challenges

Increases in Mandated PSERS Contributions: 
The state of Pennsylvania mandates that all PA school districts contribute to the Public School Employees’ Retirement Systems (PSERS).  Over the past 10 years, state funding levels have seen a drastic cut, forcing school districts to make up the difference with the use of local tax revenues.  For the 2019-2020 school year, all school districts must contribute at a rate of 34.29% of salaries.  In PASD that equates to $12,550,149 for the 2019-2020 school year.  The increases in this contribution rate have skyrocketed from 12.3% in the 2012-13 school year to 36% in the 2022-23 school year.  This means for every dollar paid to an employee this school year, 34 cents is contributed to the pension fund.

Act 1:
Compliance with the tax limit index became mandatory for all school districts in 2006.  The Act 1 Index is calculated using the state SAWW (Statewide Average Weekly Wage) index and the Federal ECI (Employment Cost Index).  The base index for Phoenixville for the 2019-2020 school year is 2.3%.  The Administration and Board work hard to keep any increases as low as possible, and in the past eight years, all of the budgets have been lower than the index.

Enrollment Increases:
Over the past 10 years, the District enrollment has increased nearly 25% while property taxes have increased less than 17%.  This has been accomplished by finding efficiencies while still providing above inflation increases for employees.  Projections for the future show a continuation of the upward trend in enrollment, with the need for an additional school on the horizon.

Significant Increases in Mandated Special Education Costs:
State support of special education costs has stayed virtually unchanged for the past 20 years, yet the mandated services and the accompanying expenses have risen dramatically.  Not only have we seen an increase in the cost of special education services but also in the number of students requiring those services.  It is our duty and obligation to implement Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for our students.  However, this does come at a cost.

Unfunded and Underfunded Mandates:
PASD, like other districts across the state, is faced with a growing list of unfunded or underfunded mandates.  Besides special education, they include state standardized testing and remediation; school health programs and training; English Language Development (ELD), school based mental health supports and services; gifted; staff development; various state mandated trainings; and transportation services to charter, private and parochial schools within 10 miles of PASD.

Loss of Revenue From Phoenixville Hospital:
Phoenixville Hospital has applied for non-profit status with the state, which will result in at least $950,000 of lost tax revenue each year. 

What is the District Doing to Reduce Spending

The Administration and Board are committed to providing the highest level of programming and instruction while continuing to search for cost-saving measures.  The 2019-2020 Budget saw substantial savings in every possible area, including reducing costs in operations and transportation; restructuring of departments and positions; increasing efficiencies in technology; realigning curriculum resources and professional development; and reducing the budgetary reserve.  The Board also charged the  Administration with expanding existing revenue sources such as grants, advertising, and facility rentals. 

We appreciate and value our teachers, and our salary and benefits package have allowed us to recruit and keep some of the most talented educators in our region.  We fully intend to maintain the high standards we have set in both our employee compensation and the quality programs provided for our students.  We will also continue to keep our community’s needs at the forefront of any negotiation discussions.

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