At the crack of dawn, Moon Area school teachers hit the picket line on the second day of their strike against the school district.
It’s a strike that emptied the school hallways of the children who are supposed to be in class.
“We are making progress. We are trying to get on the same page with some outstanding issues,” said Steve Palumbo, president of the Moon Area Teachers Association.
Teachers union officials and district negotiators say those issues include higher compensation, teacher contribution to health care insurance and the length of the school day.
“The taxpayers have been more than fair and now it’s time for the teachers to give just a little bit back to the taxpayers of this community,” Bryan Morrow of Moon told school directors Monday night.
Residents who spoke at the school board meeting expressed frustration with teachers, particularly during hard economic times.
“At a time when taxpayers are faced with all kinds of financial hardships, it is unfathomable that the teachers union continues to make demands on over-burdened taxpayers,” said Ron Steele of Moon.
Union officials say they understand how tough it is for residents to pay higher taxes but they want Moon teachers to be on par with other teachers in more affluent school districts. That could mean 4 percent annual payraises.
“We’re aware of the sensitivities around that issue,” says Butch Santicola of the PA State Teachers Association. “We can’t say that we’re not. But you have to look at the industry, where we are in the industry, and the competitiveness of the teaching field.”
But picket lines or not, residents who spoke urged the school board to hold the line against such increases.
“I know that the community wants you to stand strong,” Steele told school directors.