The Neshaminy Federation of Teachers is entering its fourth working academic year without a contract. Union members, who voted to authorize a strike in June, have said they will show up for class when school opens Aug. 29. It won’t be business as usual, though, said Louise Boyd, union president. Teachers will only do what’s specifically required by the expired contract. “Teachers will report to the work day 15 minutes before the bell. We will meet at the flag pole each morning and walk in to school together,” said Boyd. “We will leave 15 minutes after the final bell.” Teachers will not be taking any work home from school, nixing any after-hours tutoring or lesson planning. There’s one exception, said Boyd.
“Teachers will participate in student orientations and scheduled back-to-school nights. Wherever parents and students are, we will be there, too,” she said. Parents were upset when teachers skipped parent-teacher nights this past year. Boyd says the school board has been unwilling to negotiate, and if that continues, a strike is imminent. “The board is willing to negotiate, and has been all along,” said Ritchie Webb, president of the Neshaminy school board. “But you can’t negotiate something you don’t have, and that’s really the bottom line.” Webb says the district is suffering from low tax revenues, and can’t afford the union’s demands. Those demands include retroactive pay for the last three years of no-contract work. He says that would add up to $11 million.
The union and the district are scheduled to negotiate Thursday.