While negotiations are in full gear, it is unlikely teachers in the Bensalem School District will have a contract before the school year begins early next month, according to Superintendent David Baugh.
“I'm doubtful it will happen before the school year starts,” he said.
Baugh said the two sides first met in January and then resumed in May, with a fairly steady schedule thrown off a bit by a serious illness of a representative for the Bensalem Township Education Association. He said the two sides met all day Friday and have two more sessions scheduled for both this and next week.
“The will is good on both sides,” said Baugh, who was part of the talks until being promoted from assistant superintendent to the top spot early this month. “It's just a tough time to be negotiating contracts. It's a prolonged process but everyone is negotiating in good faith … and it's going to take some time.”
Baugh declined to discuss what issues might be the toughest to resolve.
Attempts to reach Cynthia Keaton of the BTEA over the last several months continued to be unsuccessful this week.
The association represents about 450 employees including nurses and guidance counselors.
Its last contract, a five-year deal, expired June 30.
That contract granted 3-percent annual pay hikes, according to district business manager Jack Myers.
In addition, teachers paid 10 percent of their health plan premiums, up to a maximum of $2,200 per year. The prescription drug coverage plan required a $5 co-pay for generic medications and co-pays of $20 to $35 for brand name drugs.
Union members who opted out of the health plan received payments of $100 a month if they were entitled to single coverage or $300 a month if they had a family plan.
Baugh said he is not overly concerned with starting the school year without a new teachers deal.
“I'd prefer to have a contract but the BTEA is very professional and I think they continue to put the kids first,” he said. “I think we'll be OK.”