Furloughed Tunkhannock Area Teachers Win Arbitration

TUNKHANNOCK — Teachers in one school district in Wyoming County have won a major award in a grievance filed against the district.

An arbitrator ruled that 32 teachers furloughed in the Tunkhannock Area School District must be reinstated and given back pay including compensation for medical costs.

At the high school, students were thrilled with the news.

“I’m very happy because all these teachers coming back, all these students are going to be happy about it and the class sizes are going to shrink and kids are going to learn more,” said junior Benjamin Swilley.

“We lost a lot of good teachers and it just gives the other teachers jobs. It was kind of unfair for even our best ones to get laid off,” said junior Paulie Moore.

Last July those teachers were laid off as the school board made its budget for the upcoming school year.

The teachers union filed a grievance saying those cuts were made despite a signed agreement with the district where the teachers agreed to a pay freeze and there would no furloughs until a new contract was in place.

“I think it was wrong that they cut so many but I understand that the school is losing a lot of money and they did need to do something to save some money but yes I think it was wrong,” said junior Joey Leon.

“I think they lost valuable educators and they had contract so it only seems fair that the contract is upheld,” said parent Marty Moore.

The teachers union is still calculating this award but says it could cost the district at least $1 million, possibly more.

Some parents feel that if the district couldn’t afford the teachers last year, forcing them to bring them back isn’t financially responsible.

“I think if there was cutbacks that were needed for a reason then they should cut back on it and I don’t really think they should have to take it back,” said parent Christine Travir.

The teachers union believes the district will file an appeal against this decision; it has 30 days to do so.

Calls to the Tunkhannock Area superintendent were not returned.

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