Lehigh Valley

Easton school administrators, union agree to talk about budget

Easton administrators, union agree to talk about budget

EASTON, Pa. - There have been job cuts and finger-pointing, but now teamwork is the name of the game in the Easton Area School District.

The teachers union has voted to talk it out with the district in the hopes of finding ways to save jobs and money.

Over the last three years, the teaching staff in the Easton Area School District has gone from 754 to 594, according to the teachers association.

They all walked up to the podium together, signifying a change in times.

"This step is a very positive signal to everyone in the community that we're doing our very best," said John Reinhart, Easton Area School District's superintendent.

Representatives from the Easton teachers union and school board plan to start talking about ways to deal with looming cuts in funding and teaching positions, a dialogue they want to start right away.

"If everybody from the teachers, the board, and the administration can agree, we'd like to sit down as soon as Monday," added Frank Pintabone, EASD board president.

The EASD budget deficit stands at nearly $6 million, and there is a proposal to cut 36 teaching positions next year.

According to the teachers union, layoffs and attrition have cut the teaching staff in the district by 160 positions over the last three years. That's part of the reason 469 teachers agreed to open a dialogue with the district.

"You're dealing with a board that has for the first time in those number of years been willing to even say the word exceptions out loud and publicly," said Jena Brodhead, president of the Easton Area Educational Association. "That's a huge step."

Now, the tough part is coming up with an agreement. Two months remain before a  budget needs to be finalized.

"I know can solve the issue before the June deadline," said Pintabone. "When everybody works together for the common goal, I know it can be done." 

The hope is to save all 36 positions.

One thing that may hold up negotiations is that the school district still doesn't know how much money it will receive from the state this year.

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