Bethlehem Press

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Saucon Valley: Board, teachers at odds on contract

Thursday, August 28, 2014 by MARK RECCEK Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

The Saucon Valley School District board at its Aug. 12 board meeting refused to accept a new contract proposal presented by the district teachers' union.

The boardroom was filled with residents and teachers who expressed differing opinions regarding teacher negotiations with the district.

Negotiations have been ongoing since 2012, with teachers currently working under a contract that expired June of 2012.

Hellertown resident Randy Yardumian accused the teachers of acting immaturely and in a self-interested manner. Yardumian also said he is concerned for local residents.

"I feel we are being held hostage by teachers acting like 3-year-olds," he said.

He thanked the board for refusing to cave in to the demands of the teachers.

The contract the teachers proposed would raise the 2012-13 payroll from $12.2 million to $14.4 million in 2014-15. The increase equates to 2.5 percent each year.

Board member Ralph Puerta argued the 3 percent increase the union is seeking reflects only cost of living adjustments. According to Puerta, teachers would also receive a 3.1 percent increase for years of service and a 1.5 percent increase for graduate education.

"We are not a country club district," Puerta said. "We are not a district of mansions."

Saucon Valley Education Association union negotiator and attorney Rich Simononias urged the board to reconsider the proposal.

"It is a similar number of dollars this board agreed to last year," he said. "This equates to an increase of 7.5 percent over three years, not 7 percent per year."

According to the district website, the school board is proposing a modified version of the fact finders' recommendation, which would give employees two raise components in 2014-15 and step plus column movement in 2015-16.

Lower Saucon resident Leslie Repyneck said she is concerned how the contract impasse will affect district children.

"I really hope all this turns around because it's very disturbing," she said.