Deadline coming fast


First Posted: 7/27/2013

No one appreciates a deadline more than newspaper people. We often joke that without a deadline, nothing would ever get done. We’d edit every story forever.

But our deadlines prevent that from happening.

We’re hoping that is the case with the strike deadline set by the Wyoming Area teachers. Working under the terms of an expired contract for three years, they have drawn a line in the san for Sept. 3.

Good.

Everyone knows what has to be done and now everyone knows when.

We don’t envy the Wyoming Area School Board members when it comes to negotiating this contract. Wyoming Area is not a district with a lot of industry pouring in tax dollars and the flood of 2011 also cost the district property tax revenue.

But Wyoming Area is also recognized as being a top-flight district academically and much of that credit must go to a dedicated faculty. A faculty that deserves to be paid.

The issue with the WA faculty is parity. The teachers claim they are underpaid compared to unions in neighboring districts.

Wyoming Area teachers point out that district teachers have the lowest average salary among all districts in the county.

And almost anyway you look at it, state data back them up. The average Wyoming Area salary for “professional personnel,” a category that refers primarily to teachers, was $54,618 in 2012-13, according to the state Department of Education. That’s almost $2,000 less than the next lowest average, $56,345 at Northwest Area, and more than $12,000 below the highest average of $66,663 at neighboring Wyoming Valley West.

When the Wyoming Area union first went public with the claim that its teachers had the lowest average salary — in a full page newspaper ad in February — lead union negotiator John Holland defended the claim. “It’s a factual statement,” he said. “We can debate it, but it’s an accurate statement.”

As we said, we don’t envy the WA board. But we urged all parties to respect that deadline.

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