Sides work to avoid strike in Methacton schools

NORRISTOWN, Pa. - October 13, 2010

Wearing union t-shirts, teachers gathered outside of the labor talks on Wednesday. If those talks are not successful, those teachers could be on the picket line by Friday.

Made up of bedroom communities, the recession has hit the Methacton School District hard. Home values have dropped, and a fact-finders report talks of unemployment among taxpayers.

The largest taxpayer, the Shannondell Retirement Community has applied for a tax reassessment, which could cost the district $500,000 per year.

The fact-finder recommended a four year contract in which teachers would pick up more medical costs and raises would average three percent a year.

The teachers overwhelmingly rejected it.

They argue, in part, that some in their ranks would get a far smaller increase.

"The teachers at the top will make 1.25% over a four year period," said Union President Diana Kernoph. "They took a hit the last time the economy was good."

There is some empathy for the teachers, who now start at $41,000 and level off at about $95,000.

"I feel bad for the teachers because, from my understanding, I heard the superintendent got a big raise," said resident Michelle Burns.

Other say, given the economy, the teachers are overreaching.

"The teachers are asking for way to much, especially in these times," said Jeff Kocher.

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