DALLAS --Teachers from the Dallas School District have now been on strike for more than three weeks.
“I never thought it would get to this point in Dallas,” said Michael Cherinka, the Dallas Education Association president.
The dispute is over a contract the district says it cannot afford. At the same time, Newswatch 16 found there's another pricey perk you're paying for: Unused sick and vacation time that's paid out when teachers retire.
"I think it's terrible," said Dianne Golightly of Shavertown. "I think it's terrible what the teachers are doing. I think it's terrible for the kids. I know I have a granddaughter who's begging to go back to school."
According to the Dallas School District Policy, teachers can bank up to 150 sick days and get paid $23 for each of them upon retirement. It's not clear how many vacation days teachers can accrue.
"Obviously, anything's on the table, as far as negotiations," said Superintendent Thomas Duffy of the Dallas School District.
He pointed out unused sick and vacation payouts are common in public school districts, often a part of a collective bargaining agreement. Still, he admitted they can be expensive.
"Certainly, there are some large dollar amounts that go with those payouts," he said.
Still, many of these teachers believe the payouts they're set to receive from their unused sick and vacation time is money they've earned. But after we showed some taxpayers what we found, they're now questioning if they can even afford the payouts.
"No! I mean, my gosh, we're taxed to death!" said one woman.
Still, some Dallas parents think teachers deserve the payouts.
"It's a payback, saying thank you for your hard work and services," said a parent.
But experts say those payouts are ending in private businesses because of the high cost. Public jobs could be next.
"It is one more liability on the book. It does add up over time, and it is becoming less and less common," said Justin Matus, a Wilkes University associate business professor.
Teachers are expected to return to class by next Tuesday, even if a contract is not reached.