Back to Class Without a Contract, Again

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OLD FORGE – The classrooms and playgrounds are empty in Old Forge, but not for long.  School will be back in session after a three-week long teachers’ strike.

It’s a welcome change of pace for Jill Kissolovege, an Old Forge graduate and mother of two young kids in the district.

"It`s been very difficult between the kids being hyperactive and not being in school learning, to trying to juggle work schedules and get them where they need to be,” said Kissolovege.

Her son Ryan says he doesn’t like being at home, and would much rather be spending his time in the third grade classroom.

"Sad, because I`m missing my friends. I`m not getting to play with them. We should be in school learning," said 8-year old Ryan Kissolovege.

Old Forge teachers say they never wanted to strike either and hitting the picket lines for the fourth year in a row, without coming to a contract agreement is becoming frustrating for them as well – and is hurting morale.

"It`s unfortunate that it got to that point, but we did what we had to do and now we`re ready to get back to the students and back to what we love doing," said OFEA President Patrick McLane.

As the teachers prepare to return to their classrooms yet again without a contract, parents worry when they might see them out here on the picket lines again.

"If it`s not settled this year, what`s going to happen next year, are we going to start this process all over again next year?" said Kissolovege.

Chris Capozza teaches music to many students who attend Old Forge and says this situation is hurting graduating students with summer plans, but most of all he says it was just pointless.

"It`s a waste of time to start with because they have no contract now anyway.  So and they`re going back and then it throws off plans for the end of the year,” said Capozza.

Now the teachers will enter into non-binding arbitration under state law, but the possibility of another strike still remains as school starts again here in Old Forge.