Souderton teachers back to work

September 19, 2008 5:50:56 AM PDT
Teachers in the Souderton Area School District and school officials agreed to final, best offer non-binding arbitration. That means class wll be back in session Friday as teachers return to work.

Teachers and the school board will continue to work through arbitration to hammer out a contract.

Both sides now have 10 days to put their final, best offer on the table to try and resolve their differences.

Friday will now mark the first day of school for the year for Souderton.

"They voted unanimously to go back to work tomorrow, and enter into non-binding arbitration. They're looking forward to that, which will begin next week, and hopefully getting enough movement on both sides so there will be a contract before Christmas," said Robert Broderick of the teachers' union.

The union had said that starting salaries for teachers, starting at about $36,000, was the lowest in Montgomery County. The union was asking for an annual salary increase of 8.2% over four years.

Saying Souderton is not exactly thriving with a huge tax base, the school board countered with a 2.5% increase in each of three years.

Teachers who spoke to Action News say they're happy, and eager to return to their classrooms.

In a statement, school district Superintendent Charles Amuso said "A wonderful year is about to begin, and on behalf of the district, I am delighted."

The teachers have been on strike since the start of the school year, Sept 2. There are major differences over pay and healthcare. The union says starting salaries for teachers in Souderton of just over $36,000 rank last in Montgomery County. It wants an average annual salary increase of 8.2-percent over 4 years.

Saying rural Souderton is not exactly thriving with a huge tax base, the School Board has countered with a 2.5%% raise in each of 3 years.

Despite the fact that everyone seems happy to get back to school, both side seemed deeply entrenched in their positions.

For the time being, it's back to school in Souderton, but it is clear, there is a lot more negotiating that will have to take place to reach a contract agreement.

For updated information on Friday's first day of school visit the website for the Souderton Area School District.

For updates from the Souderton Area Education Association, visit their website here.

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