Dueling chants at Neshaminy school board meeting

January 11, 2012 3:26:39 AM PST
Parents and others applauded and cheered as school board members entered the meeting room while striking teachers in the back of the room chanted "negotiate."

Soon, there would be dueling chants with parents yelling, "Teach our kids."

The teachers went on strike Monday after four years of negotiations failed to produce a new contract.

Presently, they are the highest paid in the state and receive free health care.

The school board now wants teachers to contribute 15%, but the union only wants to contribute a fixed amount of 8%.

"We've been reaching and reaching for a compromise and the school board has simply been throwing it back at us: 'No, take what we offer or leave it,'" Union President Louise Boyd said.

Tonight, many parents criticized the teachers for demands they see as unreasonable.

"People are losing jobs. I don't know how they expect to get what they want. It's impossible," parent Donna Lorenz said.

Taxpayer Angela Manning says she's about to lose her home as she struggles to pay her bills.

"You want more from me? I can't give you anything else. I'm already working two jobs and trying to support my family," Manning said.

Many residents urged the school board not to cave.

"And if you have to, remove our offer from the table next time they reject it. There is a long line of newly laid off teachers willing to work and give us better results," Armando Carrasquillo said.

Clearly, there are some who support the teachers.

"Let me be the first to proclaim that the Neshaminy teachers are by no means anything claimed by their criticizers. They have been amazing influences not only in my education, but also my life," high school senior Zac Heineman said.

The teachers union says it plans to be at a previously scheduled bargaining session on Thursday, but the school board says it will not negotiate as long as the teachers are on strike.

The state has now determined that teachers have to return to the classroom no later than January 20th.