Teachers strike decimates district

When Littlestown (PA) students took seats today in their new classrooms at their new grade levels during the first day of school, the teachers standing in front of many of them were likewise experiencing something new.

Over the summer, Littlestown Area School District filled 32 vacant teaching positions, District Superintendent Robert McConaghy said. Previously, the district had reported 31 vacant positions.

As a new school year begins, the school board and teachers union are still trying to reach an agreement. Health care and salary have been the primary issues, which led to a 10-day strike last October.

Last year's strike might have some parents wondering if there will be a repeat of it this year. The strike pushed graduation last year back to June 15. "I can tell you there is no talk of a strike at this time," she said. "We're still actively negotiating with the board."

The school board made another offer to the union in July. Teachers were going to vote on the offer last week, but had questions about the salary schedule included in the offer, according to Motts. She said the focus of a meeting last Friday was to work on the details of the salary portion of the offer. Those details are still being worked out.

No further meetings have been set at this point, she said.

Teachers had two days of in-service training this week preparing for school to open.

McConaghy said the new teachers seem to be adjusting well to their new jobs, and he expected school to begin without a hitch.

"It should be a regular, good start," he said Tuesday.

The positions were vacated during the summer as teachers resigned, many of them because of the situation with the teachers contract.

"The teachers are saddened they are starting a new school year without so many of their colleagues," said union President Tina Motts. "Their skills, knowledge and experience are a great loss to the district."

But Motts feels the new teachers will adjust well, and said veteran teachers will serve as good mentors. New teachers met with their veteran counterparts at an orientation Aug. 20.


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