What to Know
- Methacton teachers walk picket lines as thousands of students miss class.
- The union teachers and school board can't reach agreement on health care contributions.
- The last Methacton strike stretched on for weeks in 1985.
Thousands of children in a Montgomery County school district won't be in class Wednesday as teachers in the Methacton School District continue to walk the picket lines.
The negotiations between the Methacton School District’s Board of School Directors and the Methacton Education Association had been ongoing since January as teachers sought a new contract. The teacher’s union said sticking points were over wages not being high enough to cover increasing health insurance premiums.
Striking teachers began picketing outside schools around 7:30 a.m. Monday.
Both sides met Sunday night at Skyview Upper Elementary School in Trooper, Pennsylvania where they spent hours negotiating a new contract. The 403 union teachers and the board failed to reach an agreement and the Methacton Education Association declared a strike shortly after 8:30 p.m.
School Board President Chris Boardman called the negotiations "productive." But, while progress was made regarding salary increases, talks between both sides went south when they were unable to come to an agreement on how much teachers should pay for their health insurance.
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Classes for about 5,000 students spread across the district's seven schools were canceled Monday and Tuesday during the 403 teachers on strike. Classes will be canceled Wednesday as well.
"We don't want anybody to think we don't care about the kids and the education that they're going to get here," Diana Kernop of the Methacton Education Association said. "But our group is solidly together."
There is currently no set time for when both sides will return to the negotiating table. A state mediator has been coordinating exchanges between both sides, the district said.
"We will be meeting as appropriate and hopefully within the next week we will be back together," Boardman said. "But we're all reeling from the shock of the whole message."
The Methacton School District released its plans for the strike. You can find a list of those plans -- including options for temporary child care for elementary school students at the Audubon YMCA -- as well as important contact information here.
"Maybe no work for me tomorrow," Mike Kaufman, a parent of a student in the district, told NBC10. "My wife, somebody has to stay home. I have a younger child too so, we're calling the grandparents."
The last Methacton strike in 1985 lasted 25 days.