Waynesboro teachers demonstrate outside school board meeting

Several teachers use comment portion to address ongoing negotiations

February 15, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Waynesboro (Pa.) Area Education Association President Jessica Bryan, left, and Negotiations Chairman Mike Engle, right, stand with dozens of others outside Waynesboro Area Middle School on Tuesday night before a meeting of the Waynesboro Area School District's board of education.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Teachers in the Waynesboro Area School District organized another public display Tuesday in support of settling contract issues.

About 75 teachers gathered outside the middle school before the evening's school board meeting. Some held signs with slogans such as "Got contract?" and "Wanted: fair contract."

As they have done in recent weeks, several teachers from the Waynesboro Area Education Association used the public comment portion of the meeting to address ongoing negotiations. A one-year extension of a three-year teacher contract expired at the end of the 2009-10 fiscal year.

"There's no give-and-take with this board at all. ... I love this district, but this board is destroying it," said Deborah Jacobs, a second-grade teacher at Hooverville Elementary School.

Board member Leland Lemley reiterated his concerns about recurring expenses, the largest portion of which are salaries and benefits.

"We are losing $1.8 million from the state this year, and we're getting no new local revenue," he said.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Monday.

The teachers, who have taken a strike authorization vote, accepted recommendations from a fact-finder's report, saying those provisions could serve as the basis of a new contract. The school board rejected the report.

Furnace Road resident Dennis Hazen commended the board on its steps to control spending.

"You are involved in a teacher contract (dispute); you are involved in refinancing debt. You don't have the money to do this," he said.

Social studies teacher Tawnya Finney said the decisions made now will affect generations to come.

"This school board won't be around to see the impact of those cuts. It's going to be our children and grandchildren in this community," she said.

Chris Heibeck, of Mentzer Gap Road, said the community needs to think about what investments it wants to make.

"The teachers in this room shouldn't be penalized because we made a $47 million investment in a building," she said, referring to the renovation and expansion of Waynesboro Area Senior High School.

Lemley said he wanted to once again invite anyone from the community to look for ways to improve the budget situation.

"Perhaps we're not seeing something," he said. "Perhaps we're not smart enough to find it."

Waynesboro Area Education Association President Jessica Bryan invited the entire school board to the next bargaining session, saying she doesn't think its three-person negotiating team is empowered to make decisions at the table. She commended some board members on conversations that happened outside the meeting during the demonstration.

"Compromise can happen, but not when no one is there," she said.


On the Web:
Fact-finder’s report

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