North Penn Education Association President Alan Malachowski says he would change the law covering teacher contract talks if he were a state legislator. He says the current process is flawed because it has no end game.
“When you get to the new school year you essentially start all over, so if I were a lawmaker I don’t know the answer, or what kind of end game you put on it, but I think there has to be some way to motivate boards and to motivate education associations to say you’ve got to settle or ‘x,’ and right now there is no ‘x.’”
Malachowski says the law should provide an incentive for both sides to settle, possibly in the form of state funding cuts if they fail to reach an agreement within a certain period of time. North Penn School Board member Steve Hladik says he agrees about the end game, but he also believes school board and union negotiators need to start earlier and not wait until the old contract is about to expire.
“We did try the Early Bird, which I thought was actually productive in cordial conversations, and it’s a shame that passions on both sides can become inflamed and you get to these situations. On the micro level I would like to see us continue the lines of communication. You have to continue that dialog and start it earlier next time. Let’s not get down to the wire.”
Just because a new four-year deal was approved recently, Hladik says, that does not mean they have to wait four years to sit down and talk about the next contract.