LISTEN: School Board Member's Loud, Colorful Speech Rouses Audience
Kevin Fischer is not a fan of teachers union spokesman Butch Santicola.
Caution: This report (and accompanying media) contains language that some may find offensive.
Baldwin-Whitehall School Board member Kevin J. Fischer reacted harshly at a board meeting on Wednesday night to a news release issued recently by The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA).
In that release—most of which is available here—PSEA spokesman Butch Santicola said, "The Baldwin-Whitehall School Board just thumbed their noses not only at their teachers ... they also thumbed their noses at the taxpaying residents of Baldwin-Whitehall and the students of the district."
Santicola was referring to the school board's decision not to address a labor proposal from the Baldwin-Whitehall Education Association (teachers union) that would have saved the district, as the news release claims, $1.5 million over the next five years.
But B-W Superintendent Dr. Randal A. Lutz said that the union's offer included stipulations, such as a no-furlough clause and a benefits-contribution freeze, that were too risky for the board to accept.
During board member comments time on Wednesday, Fischer explained why he and his fellow board members decided not to address the union's proposal and took serious umbrage with Santicola's assertion that the board "thumbed their noses" at anyone.
With his voice raised at times throughout his speech and with his fist sometimes pounding his desk, Fischer said that the union's offer should have included at least a one-year wage freeze in alignment with what other district employees have already done. Instead, he said, the teachers wanted too much.
"All we wanted was one year," Fischer said. "Join the rest of the group. Take one year; put it in your pocket. Let's move on.
"No, no, (they) come back with this list of demands. And let's remember something, folks: 'Take it or leave it' was basically how they put it to us.
"Quite frankly, folks, this board has never thumbed its nose at the taxpayers. But The PSEA, they just told the taxpayers, 'Bend over.'
"That's what they did. That's what they'll do. Take it to the bank.
"Whoever's out there, tell Mr. Santicola, 'Come to Baldwin-Whitehall.' I'll take a day or two off of my job ... Tell him to come here. We'll walk the streets of Baldwin-Whitehall. We'll take our proposal, and we'll take their proposal to the taxpayers of this community. And I'll bet you a nickel to a dollar what they tell me they wanna have.
"We're not the bad guy. And I challenge him to come to here, walk with me and see who the bad guy is."
Click on the audio recording above to hear Fischer's full speech, which drew applause from some members of the audience.
And check back with the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch throughout Thursday for plenty more from Wednesday's board meeting.
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