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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 —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  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, , 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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NE12Ukid September 13, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Shame when grown men have to pound tables and use language like 'BEND OVER' to get their point across, its embarrassing to the entire community. When people act this way they may be 100% right, but they sound deranged.
elizabeth mahoney September 13, 2012 at 02:12 PM
This display demonstrates a lack of collegiality and respect for the population at large. Public officials should model behaviors that reflect the best examples of public service. One would hope that members of the school board would not need vocabulary lessons and classes in rhetoric.
cc September 13, 2012 at 04:56 PM
The teachers once again are asking to much from the District and I have to agree with the school board on this. The teachers don't want "such as a no-furlough clause and a benefits-contribution freeze", which needs to be put into place. As a business owner who pays over 70% of my employee's medical the average payment for a family that is coming out of their pays is $130.00 a month. For a single person they are paying close to $100. Once again these teachers are asking for too much in our district. Other districts took pay freezes and didn't ask for the conditions that Baldwin Teachers asked for. Our teachers want everything handed to them on a silver plate and they need to start putting more money into medical insurance, towards their pensions and anything else they want. How many residents of Baldwin/Whitehall School District only work less than 190 days a year and get paid close to $80 an hour with their benefit package. They make more than Port Authority Bus Drivers and Union Construction Workers. How many tax payers in Baldwin/Whitehall get more than 90% of their medical paid for and over 90% of their retirement paid for. Times have changed and teachers are a dime a dozen and should be replaced when they aren't teaching our students. According to AYP they aren't doing a very good job of teaching our students.
Robert Edward Healy, III September 13, 2012 at 04:57 PM
cc, The teachers DO want those things. Perhaps that was a typo on your part.
Purple Power September 13, 2012 at 05:01 PM
It's a shame that this board has nothing but "grandstanders" who feel like they have to yell to get their point across. Why does it even matter what Santicola says about the board? Why do you feel the need to have to defend yourself from comments? Oh, that's right, because of the years and years of inadequate representation and the lack of action on sub par educators, administrators and staff. Dr. Lutz should start by recommending "house cleaning" in the administrative offices and replace the non qualified employees with qualified ones and then go through the schools. This board has been and will continue to be the laughing stock until we as a community vote out the bad and replace them with people who want real action and care about education of all children.
cc September 13, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Bob I cut the "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. (4th Paragraph). The teachers union wants to put a freeze on not paying any more money towards their healthcare and pension over the next 4 years. I can see the school boards point of view for not wanting this in there, as prices of Medical Insurance usually goes up at the end of the year. Teachers want it frozen at 88 a month. What if their medical goes up 200 a month we as tax payers eat the charge in higher taxes or they cut more from our students education to pay for added expenses.
Robert Edward Healy, III September 13, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Yes, that is the quote. But re-read your first post. It sounded opposite.
cc September 13, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Many of the parents aren't fans of how the union teachers that we have up at Baldwin don't teach our students and or AYP scores dropped again. People are up in arms about parents pulling their children out of the district to send to cyber/charter schools and money being taken away from the school. I don't fault any parent who wants a better education for their child and choose to use cyber/charter schools.
cc September 13, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Bob what I was trying to say is the teachers want to freeze everything that benefits them and who cares about the school district, tax payers or students. I've been putting in 17 hours or more a day and I can't wait till weekend to get some sleep.
Billee September 13, 2012 at 08:06 PM
It's a shame when we can't even meet the DEMANDS of a child with special needs so she can BEND OVER and go to the bathroom because the father stated it was a UNION ISSUE! I guess the DEMANDS of the union were more important than that of the child! Kevin Fischer is not deranged but full of righteous passion he made the comment just minutes after a fathers plea for help! I guess this father will get a RED FLAG too! May angels follow that little girl all her days and may God have mercy on us. Thanks for not BACKING DOWN... Mr. Fischer!
Bob Gullifty September 13, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Those teachers work their behinds off. Maybe the parents should take more responsibility for their kids. That would be a good start. Comparing teachers to bus drivers and whatever else is an insult to their profession. They are college educated professionals with one of the hardest jobs in the country. Stop the teacher bashing it makes you all look ignorant. Is it their fault they have the backbone to stand-up for themselves in a time when nobody else does? Are you jealous?
NE12Ukid September 13, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Billeee, please do not misquote OR misrepresent my words, thank you. I said "When people act this way they may be 100% right, but they sound deranged.'' And they do SOUND that way, I prefer being represented by people who can express themself without expletives and hopefully hold their temper, even under stress.
cc September 14, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Bob they do have good teachers up at Baldwin but they do have a lot of bad apples teaching our student, who are only their for a paycheck, great medical, great pension work less then 190 days a year and don't put any effort into teaching our students. Teachers are also a dime a dozen and the bad ones need to go as they aren't teaching our students but are getting paid big bucks to do it. You can go to school and get a 4 year Masters Degree in basket weaving but as long as you get a certificate to teach then you can be a math or science teacher. Sorry I raised 5 children on my own and spent a lot of time teaching them Algebra, Chemistry Biology over the years that they didn't lessons from their teachers. Talk to the parents who's students to go CCAC and are taking high school classes the first 2 semesters because they can't pass the entrance exam.
Billee September 14, 2012 at 01:47 AM
I'm not your attorney just a commentator... so I could not misrepresent you. I didn't misquote you... simply miss read what you said and miss understood you so it's a comprehension weakness on my part. Maybe it would please you to call me illeee instead of Billee NE12UKID! Besides how do you know I don't have a learning disability? I wouldn't recommend you for a online learning instructor and I hope you don't work for a AIU dept. I bet 51% of the parents reading this would agree. Please forgive me if I offended you with little COURAGE to produce your real name!
karma September 14, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Wow is all I can say! I dont live in this district but the lack of respect shown here towards the teaching faculty is disturbing. For those who think that teachers are a dime a dozen - be careful what you wish for because that may be what you get...dozens of very bad teachers for each dime spent!
Steve September 14, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Bob Gullifty I don't look at the school board asking for the teachers to taking a year freeze as comparing teachers to bus drivers and whatever else as an insult to their profession. BW has a lot of excellent teachers in this district, but they should take a one year freeze like every other employee in this school district. If they gave a care about the students and the taxpayers, they would take a freeze. Yes they have a difficult job, but they are no better than any other employee who works for this district. Sounds to me as you look at the district bus drivers or whatever else as uneducated employees. We have a lot of employees who are not teachers who have just as much education, some even more than the teachers, so don't make it sound like the other employees in this district are low lives. Our teachers get a nice wage and it won't kill them to join the ranks of other employees to show they are team players. Again, I think the majority of teachers are excellent, but they need to stop being selfish
NE12Ukid September 14, 2012 at 03:36 AM
simply miss read what you said and miss understood you so it's a comprehension weakness on my part.>>> Probably so, but no offense taken, I just wanted it clear that I never said Fischer was deranged. I have no idea what nor why you are going on about being an online instructor, but if you got that impression, its another "miss read/ miss understood".
NE12Ukid September 14, 2012 at 03:41 AM
I believe part of the problem is that the teachers negotiated a contract with the BOE and if the teacher change part of that contract the BOE can call that precedence and possibly void the whole thing, which would be disastrous, teachers would have no salary scale provisions, no health care, nothing that was in that contract. They have very specific rules about how these things have to be done in contract situations. Just sayin' this is probably why the PSEA couldn't let them just say, OK you can freeze our salary for one year. It's a bit more complicated, with step raises, longevity payments, etc.
Kevin September 14, 2012 at 10:26 AM
I used to be a teacher, but I switched careers and work as a financial consultant, making three times as much now as I did when I taught. I left the teaching profession because I was tired from the stress of it all. One of the gravest injustices in this country today is the disrespect of teachers. Anyone who argues that teachers make too much money has absolutely no clue what he/she is talking about. Teachers should be respected and public education should be invested in. Parents should stop blaming teachers for their child's perceived shortcomings and begin to look in the mirror at themselves. 99.9% of the time it is the parents fault for not making their kids accountable when they do poorly in school. I would not be where I am today if it wasnt for the amazing teachers I had way back when and my parents who taught me that I have nobody to blame but myself. Trust me, the vast majority of teachers today are the best educators this country has ever seen.
NE12Ukid September 14, 2012 at 11:22 AM
BTDT, too, Kevin, and you know what you're talking about. But there's one or two on here who just have to comment in poorly written English on every topic; and the comment is always putting someone else down, if it's not the teachers, its the firemen, if its not the firemen, its the neighbors, if not them, then it's the POTUS. And then they'll tell you how great and perfect THEY are, did it all by themself, no help ever from anyone. If it weren't so sad, it would be funny.
cc September 14, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Kevin with raising 5 children and the oldest graduated in 2001 and still one in high school teaching has changed drastically over the years.. Some of the teachers could care less if our students learn or not. Parents are their to help their children when they don't understand something, but we should not be teaching them day after day what they are suppose to be learning in their classes at school, remember that is why we send them to school to LEARN. You couldn't cut it as a teacher because of the stress, maybe more of our teachers need to quit and find other careers but they won't because they like all the perks of the job, less than 190 days of working, sick days, vacation days, great benefits, great pension for life. Tell me in your new job do you work less than 190 days a year, have a great pension plan that you don't contribute much to, have great medical that you pay very little to. A teachers benefit package in Pennsylvania is worth about 80 an hour, do you have this at your job and can you start collecting your pension once you retire at a young age??? Don't blame the parents when teachers aren't doing their jobs and then make demands of our school district that only benefit them and not the students nor the tax payers.
MLR September 14, 2012 at 02:25 PM
As a parent who has a 3rd grader in Whitehall right now, I can only PRAY that my son never attends a classroom taught by a teacher who is "only there for the paycheck." I guess I've been lucky so far because my son has had amazing teachers that have taught him so much the past 4 years...that's the reason why we've kept him in the school district instead of sending him to St. E's...however I am also hoping that this school board and PSEA can get it together and negotiate!!! I do not want to deal with repercussions a couple years down the line (AKA strikes) because everyone is feuding. My nieces live in Bethel Park and I know what a strain it was on my in-laws when their school district went on strike...and I can't believe at a time like this when we have these problems with the administration and our PSSA scores are down that I am watching the news to see that parents are complaining about RECESS...are you kidding me??!!! I for one could care less about whether my son plays in the gym, plays WII, or plays outside...I'm just happy that he has a great teacher that has a structured schedule, sends homework home nightly, and that I am able to see ACADEMIC progress this early in the school year. This administration (along with the teacher's association) needs to get it together now...I do not want my son suffering in the meantime...(sorry, I have been reading these stories very frequently and needed to add my 2 cents! :)
NE12Ukid September 14, 2012 at 10:41 PM
MLR, may I be so bold as to suggest that you share this letter with your child's great teacher? I'm glad too that your child is having a good school year again. Best to you both.
cc September 14, 2012 at 11:54 PM
How did all the other School District teachers around Baldwin/Whitehall take Pay Freezes yet our teachers put stipulations in. They are just a bunch of greedy people. Our school board did make a big mistake this year in not raising property taxes up a half mil. Next year were going to get slammed with a nice raise on our school taxes.
cc September 15, 2012 at 12:20 AM
MLR - We had a long strike in 2007 when teachers were demanding a 5.5% raise per year and they were on the picket line 70 days. They ended up settling for 4% and 4.5 % the following year an the average pay of a teacher back then was 52,000 a year and weren't paying anything towards health insurance before this. In 2009 they negotiated another contract where they get an annual 4% raise and pay 6.5% toward their medical which comes out to 89 a month for family coverage. This contact is in effect till 2015 How many people who live in the Baldwin/Whitehall school district get a annual 4% pay raise and pay 89 a month towards medical for their families?
Mark Archer September 15, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I am in a union, I am also the son of a union member. With that being said I think teachers all over state need to start making some sacrifices like the rest of us. I respect the job that they do, but it is time to start making some concessions. As for Mr. Fischer's rant. He could have gotten his point across better with a little more professionalism. He left the city a long time ago.
cc September 15, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Mark agree with you, they need to take concessions as all unions do. My late husband was in a union and still get the newsletters and see what they have taking in concessions. I even had to take a freeze on the pension that i'm receiving from them.

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