By Diana Rocco
NESHAMINY, Pa. (CBS) — “Pull the offer off the table now,” says Charles Alfonso, a parent who’s fed up with Neshaminy teachers fighting for a new contract and says his kids are suffering.
Alfonso was one of hundreds of parents who packed the Maple Point Middle School’s gym Tuesday night for a school board meeting, carrying signs with a message for the teachers.
“These are innocent kids, these are children … How much worse can this get?” one person at the meeting said.
After being unable to come to a contract agreement, the teachers have gone on strike for a second time, just days before the end of the year. It’s something the school board says is a ploy by the union, The Neshaminy Federation of Teachers, to force the district to cave to their outrageous demands.
“We’re fighting for the kids. We can’t pass a budget we can’t afford, forcing us to cut school programs. We had two days scheduled to negotiate; they chose to ignore that and strike. It’s a ploy,” says Ritchie Webb, the president of the school board.
Students will have two weeks off then must finish their days at school, which pushes their school year all the way to the end of June.
“With a strike at the end of the year, it really worried me about how I’m going to take my finals … how’s that going to happen?” says Ed McConnell, Jr., a graduating senior who will walk on June 13th.
McConnell says students are worried that they won’t see their teachers at their graduation.
Teachers say they are receiving threats from angry parents. The union claims parents have been throwing fruit and eggs at their picket lines. One teacher claims to have received a death threat over Facebook.
Teachers in the district have not had a contract in four years. They’re asking for retro pay, and up to a three percent raise. Teachers’ salaries range from the low $40,000 to $96,000 a year, and that’s something the district says they can’t afford.
“I’m very frustrated, particularly this week and next. We don’t ever think they’ll reach a compromise,” an attendee at the meeting admits.
The NFT says they are prepared to see this through to the end, and they hope a judge will force the district to negotiate. The students go back to school on June 18th. They will finish their school year at the end of June.