Dear LMSD Families,
District officials met with representatives of the Lower Merion Education Association last night as part of ongoing contract negotiations. As you may be aware from recent media reports, LMEA -- the union representing our teachers and support staff -- has rejected the District's contract offer, hired a public relations firm and launched a campaign targeting parents to press its case for higher salaries. We understand that there have been conversations in the community about the consequences of a potential work stoppage. We have heard parental and student concerns about this issue becoming a distraction and an impediment to the school year.
To be clear, the resolution of an agreement with LMEA is an immediate priority for the LMSD Board of School Directors. We greatly value the outstanding work of our teachers and support staff and are proud to support them with a competitive salary and benefits package, world-class facilities and extensive professional learning opportunities. Currently, LMSD professional staff have the highest compensation in the state by more than $3K and out-earn peers in neighboring school districts by an average of more than $10K. The average salary in LMSD is $99,253. We have offered to extend the existing contract for one additional year, which would increase salaries by an average of 3.4% and maintain all existing benefits.
We do not want a contentious negotiation process. Our goal in offering to continue the current contract was to open the school year with a stable, positive contract situation while we continue our bargaining process. While we respect the efforts of LMEA to advocate for its members, we are concerned that tactics that divide our community may prove counterproductive at a time when support for public education is already fragile and we face unprecedented enrollment growth, active budget litigation, increasing pension obligations and rising costs of mandated programs.
We will continue to make every effort to support a collegial negotiation process and will keep you informed on our progress. We recognize the importance of achieving resolution on an agreement in the near future and ensuring a smooth, successful start to the school year.
Thank you for your consideration.
The Lower Merion Board of School Directors