POTTSTOWN PA – About 40 Pottsgrove School District employees arrived for Tuesday’s (May 12, 2015) Board of School Directors’ meeting, dressed in blue and carrying bright green, to publicly affirm their pride in education and plead for “a fair and competitive contract” in labor negotiations already under way.
Their blue was evident at the rear of the Pottsgrove High School cafeteria, to which the board had moved from the nearby district office conference room to accommodate an overflow crowd. Members of the teachers’ union, the Pottsgrove Education Association, stood grouped behind a seated audience wearing teal-colored T-shirts that the bore the words “PGEA Stands Up For Education.”
Their green was an lime-colored informational hand-out (see below) that listed nine “Did You Know?” claims, including
- The number of teachers who live in, pay taxes to, and have children attending schools in the district (20 percent);
- The average teacher’s work week (50 hours; 12 more than called for by contract); and
- The number who spend their own money on classroom and teaching supplies (92 percent, averaging $450 annually per teacher).
Union representative and teacher Megan Delena told directors during their public comment period that her members “have been and still are committed 100 percent” to “helping students find their passion.” She refuted a charge made two weeks earlier by board President Justin Valentine, saying Pottsgrove teachers “don’t think this district is broken. We think every school is amazing.”
But Delena tacitly acknowledged financial issues that have dominated board discussions, and public comments during them, in recent months. Money is scarce, the district faces a more than $800,000 deficit, and few if any want to raise or pay higher property taxes, all at a time when union and district negotiators are bargaining over how much covered workers will be paid in coming years.
“We’re hoping you’ll stand up with us and get this done,” Delena told the board.
Valentine thanked Delena for her statement. Directors did not offer a public response. The blue-clad crowd filed out of the cafeteria a short time later.
Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ May 12 meeting):