Old Forge Teachers Storm Out Of School Town Hall Meeting

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Tempers at a town hall meeting with Old Forge School officials boiled over Monday night, leading to the teachers walking out.

Classes still have not resumed in that district after the teachers went on strike last week over salary disputes and having to cover healthcare premium costs.

Exactly one hour and seven minutes into a town hall meeting with Old Forge School leaders, the teachers walked out amid a screaming match with the board as many in the audience applauded.

“You`re ridiculous, you`re ridiculous,” shouted one of the teachers.

This meeting was called by the district to explain its side in the current teachers` strike in the district. The teachers’ union said what was presented was a complete lie.

“The meeting went as we expected, the school board is up there providing a lot of misinformation, there`s no polite way to put, they`re actually up the lying,” said John Holland, a representative with the teachers’ union.

The teachers went on strike on September 3 and classes have not resumed since.

The board says health care coverage for current teachers will cost the district more than $1 million this school year alone, since teachers do not have to pay for insurance.

It says it asked teachers to cover 7.5 percent of their healthcare premium, that's $48 a month for an individual, $115 a month for families.

Many said the teachers need to contribute something.

“I firmly believe the wine and roses of fee healthcare is ending, everybody should pay a portion,” said Joan Wilk.

Others just asked for an end in the fighting that has gone on since 2010.

“Four years, four years and we can`t come to an agreement,” said one parent.

The board says it's the teachers' union that has rejected its offers but the union says the district rejected the suggestions of a state fact finder.

“She found in favor of the teachers, that the teachers should get a raise every year and no premium share,” said Holland.

There was some talk school officials would suspend athletic programs during the strike.

At the meeting the board decided athletics will continue.

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