Teacher contract negotiations begin in Scranton School District

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Teacher contract negotiations in the Scranton School District have started, almost three years in the making.

That’s how long teachers have been without a contract. The administration is not saying anything to Eyewitness News. Eyewitness News’ Cody Butler spoke with the teacher’s union president about the contract negotiations and the state-mandated financial recovery plan.

Around 800 teachers work in the Scranton School District’s 18 schools. All have been working without a contract since the 2016-2017 school year.

“It says a lot. It says you’re working for nothing,” Scranton Federation of Teachers president Rosemary Boland said.

Boland met with district officials this week, for the first time in three years for contract negotiations.

“They called them Option 1 and Option 2 proposals, put on the table and it was take it or leave it,” Boland said.

The union rejected those offers and sent a counter-proposal back to the district. In the district’s financial watch status recovery plan, salary raises are suggested, not guaranteed.

Boland says it’s unlikely teachers will see a large increase if a contract is reached, including career-long teachers who have master’s degrees, who have been there for more than 15 years, who are expecting a $30,000 raise for their tenure.

“They have college loan debt that they are trying to pay off on nothing. Several of our folks are working two jobs or three jobs,” Boland said.

Along with working to get contracts, Boland is trying to stop the district from possibly eliminating its preschool programs by outsourcing it. Something the recovery plan suggests or consolidating the program.

“I think it is devastating. We count on that program. There is such a difference in this district once a child enters kindergarten and first grade,” Boland said.

The recovery plan also is looking at having six-period classes, instead of its current five. Boland says if that changes, their union is expecting an 18 percent cut in its teachers.

While teachers are fighting for raises and contracts, school board directors recently vowed to change acting administrative employees to permanent, giving them significant raises.

Contract negotiations are expected to continue next week.

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