Neshaminy teachers ordered back to school
NESHAMINY, Pa. - June 13, 2012 (WPVI) -- Class is back in session in the Neshaminy School District after a judge ordered striking teachers back to work.
Neshaminy High School Senior Class of 2012 will march into the stadium for their graduation ceremony as scheduled Wednesday night. They will do so on the day their teachers returned to work from their second strike of this year; all part of an ongoing labor dispute that's been going on since 2008.
Erin Gavaghan and Becky Bradley have been friends all their lives; both are graduating Wednesday night.
"I definitely going to remember that they were striking, but there are so many more memories I made during high school. I love my class, and I'm so happy that I am graduating with the class of 2012," said Erin.
"It was so much drama throughout the year. Some teachers wanted to strike and some didn't. And some teachers would be crying in class, and others were really rude about it. It was like kind of dramatic," said Becky.
Throughout their four years at Neshaminy High school, their teachers have been working under an expired contract. And both graduates say the ongoing labor dispute is one of the main things they will remember when they think back on high school.
"It affected me a lot, actually. My grades have gone down because of the constant switching back and trying to remember everything we've learned after two weeks," said Jamie Vanderslice.
Teachers went back to work Wednesday morning, after a judge called an end to their second strike of the year on Monday.
The return of the teachers to the classroom means the school year will end on June 27th.
However, the labor difficulties in the district are far from over. The teachers are now hoping the judge will force both sides to step up negotiations.
"What we are looking for is a stepped up schedule of negotiation sessions. We've had, over the past four years, approximately 40 meetings, most of which never lasted more than two or three hours, and it is just very hard to get any serious work done, given the number of issues, and as infrequently as we meet," said Jeff Dunkley from the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers.
The school board has refused to budge on issues including back pay and health-care, and that tight fiscal stance has won popularity among a number of voters.
After the first strike in January, the union approved the non-binding recommendations of a mediator, but the school board, rejected them, saying the district just doesn't have the $20-million those recommendations would cost.
Signs of support can be seen throughout the district.
"I can't afford any more taxes. I'm paying over $9,000 now in taxes, $7,100 of it goes to the school. I just can't afford any more. I lost my job and I was forced to retire, and now I'm living on a really tight budget. The teachers just need get realistic," said John McDaniels. "There is no money. They should be happy with what they have, and they are already making $90,000 plus a year. That's more than I was making, and I was at my job for more than 28 years."
Rumors circulating that the teachers might do something to disrupt Wednesday night's graduation, but the union representatives called those rumors nonsense.
Both teachers and students say they are glad the teachers went back to work Wednesday, so that they can participate in the graduation ceremony.
teachers, teacher contract, school, children, pennsylvania, local/state, amy buckman
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