Souderton teachers on strike

September 2, 2008 9:23:14 PM PDT
There was no teaching today in the Souderton Area School District in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. On what was supposed to be the first day of school, teachers hit the picket lines for the first day of a strike. That means 6,900 students were given an unexpected extension to their summer break.

Some parents tell Action News they were caught off-guard.

"I just trusted school would start, so I was a little surprised when I got the call last night, and its nice to have her home. But, it would have bee a little bit nice to get her back in school, ready to go," said Amanda Di Matteo.

Salary remains a sticking point. Teachers in the Souderton Area School District say they're among the lowest paid in Montgomery County.

They just want to be average.

"Our position is that Souderton Area School teachers want to be paid what the average school teacher gets paid in Montgomery County," said Bill Lukridge of the Souderton Area Education Association.

$64,745 is the average teacher salary in Montgomery County.

These teachers make about $3,000 less. To get to the average they would need a 5% pay hike. They're demanding an average of 7.3% more over the next four years.

The district says that's outrageous.

"I don't know of any teacher's union that is requesting that, or requested that within recent memory before going out on strike," said school district negotiator Jeffrey Sultanik.

The district is offering 2.5 % in each of the next three years. The teachers say the district has the money to meet them half way. The district says that's an emergency fund that's off limits.

Talks broke off Monday, and no new official talks are scheduled yet, although the two sides are still talking behind the scenes through a state mediator.

For updated information on the strike visit the following sites:

http://www.soudertonsd.org
http://www.saea.info/index.html

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