Teacher strike looms in Saucon Valley

HELLERTOWN, Pa. - October 13, 2009 If no deal is reached, a strike will begin on Wednesday.

Teachers and district officials have been at odds for more than a year over salary increases and other issues.

Officials say they will review the teachers' latest offer on Tuesday night. That proposal calls for a four-year contract with annual raises of 3.9 percent.

The raises would be retroactive to September 2008, when teachers went on strike for about a week to protest the lack of a contract.

The School board president says the district's and teachers' proposals are not far apart, but the differences equal up to $1 million over four years.

RELATED LINK: Read the proposal from teachers

State law limits the amount of days teachers can strike. Still, administrators worry an extended strike by it's 190 teaching professionals would extend the school year and mean eliminating some holidays.

"A five, ten or fifteen day strike right now does begin to harm the students. You have seniors, for whom this is a very important time, they're trying to get everything in line for their graduation, and where they're going after that," said school board president Ralph Puera.

Some parents, like Karen Blobe are torn on the protracted contract issue.

"I have mixed emotions. I guess I can sympathize with the teachers, what they want. But also it's a really rough economy right now. A lot of people are having to make changes and cut back on things," she said.

Others are worried about the academic interruption it will cause for the districts more than 24-hundred students and upset that many parents will have to scramble to find and pay for child care.

"I think it's getting ridiculous. We're in a bad economy. The teachers ought to be happy that they have a job today. And the district has given reasonable offers," said parent Gerry Pietrzak.

2,500 students attend schools in the district near Bethlehem.

RELATED LINK: Saucon Valley School District website.

RELATED LINK: Saucon Valley Education Association website.

If there is a strike

If a strike happens, there will be no classes for Kindergarten through 12th grade, nor will there be any classes for special education students that are held in the district.

Bethlehem VO-Tech students will still have transporation from the high school to the VO-Tech school.

In addition, the district said school buildings will not be open for students, teachers, and educational assistants during the strike.

All other personnel will report on time.

Parents are told not to bring their students to the school buildings, as there will be no one there to care for them.

Parents are urged to make arrangements for their children at local daycares if necessary. The school district provided information about those sites on their website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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