OLD FORGE — The verbal battle between striking teachers and the Old Forge School District continued Wednesday night.
Both sides aired their grievances in public.
First up was the teachers union which held a town hall meeting, then school board members answered back at a meeting of their own.
“So now you telling me I can`t figure numbers out, I`m on the negotiating team,” yelled teacher Chris Gatto.
It was another round of ugly meetings as Old Forge teachers traded barbs with school officials at a board meeting.
The teachers went on strike on September 3 over a healthcare dispute.
“We have asked at the negotiating table for numbers for years, for years,” said Gatto.
“If you care about the kids you wouldn`t have went on strike, if you care about the kids you wouldn`t have went on strike,” said board member Ronald Stacchiotti.
Before the school board meeting, the teachers held a town hall meeting of their own in Moosic, as union members explained where they stand.
The union maintains teachers should not have to pay a portion of the healthcare premiums but have offered to pay more for health benefits in other areas, saying that will save the district more money.
“To increase their prescription co-payments, they`re emergency room co-payments and deductibles and physician and specialists co-payments,” said John Holland with the teachers union.
However, the school district said that is not the case, claiming if the teachers don`t start contributing to premiums, the district will go bankrupt.
At the teachers meeting, taxpayers took both sides to task, over the conflicting numbers.
“How you got your numbers, how they add up, what the district`s numbers are, why the district is wrong because if you are right and you can do that savings, it seems very odd why the district won`t adopt it,” said one resident.
However, at the board meeting, the most impassioned plea came from a student who has been out of school for weeks.
“I want to be in school, and I want to learn, and we can`t learn if we`re not cooperating. Can we stop the name calling and just negotiate?” asked Amanda Katchmar.
The state has ordered the teachers back to class by September 25 so school can resume.