Negotiations with the Great Valley Education Association
The Great Valley School District is a premier school system, consistently ranked among the top school districts in the state and nation by major publications such as U.S. News and World Report as well as numerous school ranking websites. It draws families from across the region who are attracted by the district’s excellent academic programs, high achievement, and strong sense of community.
Great Valley’s teachers are highly valued, respected, and appreciated. We attract the best and brightest teachers, in part because of our strong compensation package, currently the highest of the 12 school districts in Chester County. Our School Board believes our teachers must be compensated competitively. The district must also consider its other critical needs, as the state of Pennsylvania’s share of district expenses is still declining, as well as the district’s fiduciary obligation and duty to its taxpayers.
Our parents expect excellent programs, and students deserve an outstanding quality education. Our community has supported reasonable increases in our budgets that have funded these programs and our staffing. Historically, the millage rates in Great Valley have been among the lowest of the 12 school districts in Chester County. We have managed our budgets responsibly and wisely, and we will negotiate with the Great Valley Education Association in the same manner.
Negotiations began in January 2018. The Great Valley School Board has established the following goals for negotiations:
- Negotiate a contract that allows the district to continue to allocate funds for the preservation and protection of the high-quality programs that are hallmarks of the Great Valley School District and necessary for the district’s continued success. This includes continued emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum, technology advancements, support for the arts, and the possible implementation of a full-day kindergarten program.
- Implement a health care plan that provides fair coverage for employees but also helps to lower its geometric increases in health care premiums to the school district. Great Valley has seen a 46% increase in health care costs over the last three years.
- Remain competitive by offering a compensation package that continues to attract and retain high-quality teachers.
- Provide parameters that maximize employee time and professional development while offering a supportive and collaborative working environment.
Salaries and benefits comprise the largest portion of the district’s budget, approximately 68 percent. Teachers are the largest employee group in the system, compromising 78% of total salaries and benefits. Our teachers’ compensation packages comprise 53 percent of the district’s total budget.
A number of mandated financial obligations impact the district’s ability to control costs, including contributions to the state employee pension system (a mandated 100% increase over the last five years), and rapidly increasing special education costs. In addition, health care costs have risen dramatically.
The school district is limited by state law (Act 1 of 2006) in how much it can raise taxes. The state’s Act 1 Index for the 2018-19 school year caps tax increases at 2.4%. The Great Valley School Board has committed to working within the 2018-19 Act 1 index as a financial parameter for this contract.
In order to operate in a fiscally responsible manner, Great Valley must plan for enrollment growth and properly manage its facilities. Based on current growth as well as projections, the district will begin discussions this spring about the need for classroom space, including the possibility of a new school.
The Great Valley School Board enters positively and optimistically into contract negotiations with the desire for a fair and reasonable settlement. Updates and information will be posted on this section of our website.