He said another issue is that under the old contract, teachers got minimum raises of 5.4 percent a year for the first 14 years they worked in the district.

He said teachers also earn more for continuing education courses they complete. But he said many of those credits are earned for on-line courses "a high school student could take and pass, like Power Point in the Classroom or Word in the Classroom.

"What this board said was: 'If we're going to pay for this stuff, we want you to take a course that has some substance to it. Go to Lehigh and sit in a classroom and take a course.' That's one of the things they don't like."

"In Saucon Valley, we've had raises as high as 29 percent in one year," he said. "And we've had some teachers get 42 graduate credits in one year."

Inghrim said the median annual salary for a teacher in the district is about $70,000 a year. "The range is anywhere from $42,000 to $93,000."

He said that median has been dropping because a "tremendous" number of people have retired from the district in the last two or three years.

The status of union negotiations was not discussed during the school board's meeting Tuesday night.

2014-15 budget

Although very few of them were in the room, there was some good news for district taxpayers during the board meeting,

Fellin, who is retiring as superintendent in July, has been saying for months that she is determined to avoid a tax increase.

She believes Saucon Valley is the only school district in Pennsylvania that will be able to say it had no budget increase for six years in a row without cutting programs.

In January, the administration was $450,004 away from preparing a balanced budget for the 2014-15 school year. In her Tuesday night update to the school board, Fellin indicated that deficit has been whittled down to $144,951.

Rather than raising taxes, she is recommending that the board use some of the district's undesignated fund balance, which totals more than $3 million, to off-set that deficit.

And tapping that $3 million will mean no tax increase for the sixth year in a row.

"We'll have more than enough" remaining in the fund balance, said Fellin.

She said the administration also is suggesting $118,000 be taken out of the fund balance for one 84-passenger school bus, $7,500 for five new bus cameras and $8,000 for new sand for pool pumps.

Fellin said five teachers are retiring, but two will not be replaced - one in Saucon Valley Middle School and one in Saucon Valley Elementary School.

Two of the three teachers being replaced will go to the middle school and one to the elementary school.

The superintendent said classes for first through eighth grades will have between 20 and 23 students.

Board member Sandra Miller said she is "terribly uncomfortable" that a position is being taken away from the elementary school. She said middle school classes will have fewer students than elementary school classes.

Miller said seventh and eighth grade classes will have only 20 or 21 students, but kindergarten through third grades will have as many as 23 - and might end up having even more..

"That is not the way I would distribute our staff," said Miller. "It sure feels like we're moving away from focusing on small class sizes at elementary and putting the focus on middle school."

Board president Michael Karabin told the superintendent: "You have my full support in what you are projecting at this point.

"I have confidence in our elementary school teachers to teach that amount of children."

The preliminary budget totals $41.6 million.