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Lehigh Valley

Easton teachers union rejects latest contract offer

District may cut more than 70 staffers

EASTON, Pa. - Teachers in the Easton Area School District rejected a contract offer Thursday night that guaranteed no furloughs for two years.

The district could have balanced its budget if the teachers union had approved the deal, said Frank Pintabone, the school board president.

But 67 percent of the union's members voted no.

Pintabone said the school board made it clear during its last meeting that if the contract offer wasn't approved the district would be forced to cut more than 70 members of the staff.

"If the teachers had passed this, they'd hold their salaries for two years and then negotiate another contract in two years when the budget was balanced," said Pintabone.

Both proposals the union presented to the school board included cuts and left the district with a deficit, said the board president.

"We offered to accept a one-year salary freeze while we worked together on finding solutions," said  Jena Brodhead, president of the Easton Area Education Association, in a statement. "Even though the temporary freeze would have saved the district $2.7 million, they said they were not interested. " 

Brodhead went on to note that the EAEA had sat down with the board several times in the past to come up with various compromises and that the EAEA is willing to continue such conversations.

"We have demonstrated our willingness to make sacrifices for our schools and our fellow teachers and professionals and remain committed to discussing a solution that could assist in solving the district's budgetary need," Brodhead said in a statement. "While we have worked with the school board, the school board needs to work with us."

Pintabone said the district proposed that teachers would have had to give back four days' worth of pay but would receive an extra six days off. He said there also would also be minimal contributions to health care.  He explained teachers currently pay no deductible. That would have gone up to $250/$500.

Pintabone said many teachers in the district have received 68 percent pay increases  since 2007.  He said many teachers are earning more than $80,000 a year.

"The contract is really hurting the district and the quality of education we are trying to provide," said the board president.

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