By Jim Melwert and Dray Clark
LANGHORNE, Pa. (CBS) – There is no school for the 9,000 students in the Neshaminy School District as teachers are now on strike.
The teachers are out picketing in front of Neshaminy High School. While much has been made of health care costs, teachers out on the lines say it is more than that. They say with each concession the union makes, the school board asks for more.
The school board is asking teachers to pay 15 percent of their premiums while the union wanted 8 percent, but insisted they were open to compromise.
Jeff Dunkley, Vice President of the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers, says he is not surprised it got to this point but says he is disappointed it had to come to a strike.
“We have made and have been willing to make throughout, concessions on just about everything. But what we won’t do is accept the board’s take it or leave it approach,” Dunkley said. “It breaks my heart. Nobody wants to be out here but we, honest to God, believe the board has left us no choice.”
School board president Ritchie Webb says they have been hearing from community members and says even meeting the union half-way would still mean extraordinary costs to taxpayers.
“We’re getting tons and tons of e-mails to stick with our guns. People have to pay for health care so I’m not sure where we go,”Webb said.
Union President Louise Boyd is urging parents to call the school board to get them back to the negotiating table. The school board, on the other hand, is urging parents to call the union to get them to take economics into consideration and to get back into classrooms.
Teachers have been without a contract since 2008. The two sides sat down with a mediator in December. There were talks scheduled for this week but the school board canceled the talks once notified of the strike.