Old Forge School District: Should Sports Stop During Strike?

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OLD FORGE — Old Forge teachers continued picketing this week. They put in several hours outside Old Forge Junior-Senior High School.

Then, some of the teachers head to their other job with the school district.

While out on strike, some teachers have been on the sidelines coaching fall sports. While it could be considered crossing the picket line, The Old Forge Teachers’ Union doesn’t see it that way.

“Our coaches who are teachers are under a different contract where they’re obligated to meet the terms of that contract in order to stay involved in coaching,” said Shawn Nee, Vice President of the Old Forge Education Association.

Nee said sports should be played while the teachers are on strike.  That’s the way it’s been during strikes over the past four years while teachers and the school board have fought over a new contract.

But now, school board officials are considering stalling fall sports while the strike continues.

“They should be two separate things, totally. The teachers want to strike? Good for them. But it should have nothing to do with kids and sports,” said Lorraine Ziemba of Old Forge.

That’s also the position of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association that oversees high school sports. In this year’s handbook there’s a policy regarding strikes.

The policy reads, “It is the philosophy of the PIAA board of directors, and PIAA member schools, that interscholastic athletics should not be used as a pawn during contract negotiations between school boards and education associations.”

Old Forge teachers said stopping sports would also distract people from the real issues keeping them out of their classrooms.

A town hall meeting is scheduled for 7:00 Monday at Old Forge High School, members of the Old Forge School Board are expected to discuss whether to stop fall sports during the strike.

Under state law, Old Forge teachers must be back in class by September 25th.