CLARKS SUMMIT -- Teachers in one of the largest school districts in our area hit the picket lines Tuesday morning. There is no school in the Abington Heights School District.
We found teachers picketing outside South Abington Elementary School in the Clarks Summit area Tuesday.
Negotiations failed between teachers and the district last week.
At least it was a nice day for Abington Heights students to be out of class, the first day of a teachers' strike that could last most of the month.
We found families making the best of it at South Abington Park near Clarks Summit, but they were the first to admit that a strike can be challenging for moms, dads, and students.
"I have a son that has special needs, so it's been a little bit tricky because he has autism and we just got into the schedule of getting into school and now we're going to have to stop and get back into the schedule again. Transitions are hard for autistic kids so it makes it a little bit trickier for him," Sarah Sespico said.
Teachers picketed at three district buildings for a few hours in the morning before meeting in the afternoon.
Union President Tim Moher says the teachers and the administration are most at odds over paying health care premiums.
"What the school board has been proposing to us is increases to our health care costs but no salary increase. And that's a net loss for my members and it's just not something I can ask them to do," Moher said.
Abington Heights Superintendent Michael Mahon says the administration is asking teachers to pay $80 a month toward health care coverage. They do not pay a monthly premium now.
The district had a $1 million deficit last year.
"The reality is that costs keep escalating, pension costs, employee costs, and a big part of the employee cost is medical benefits. So, yes, it is time for Abington Heights as a public school district to get up to date and start doing what everybody in our community has been doing for many, many years," said Mahon.
Both sides told us they are willing to negotiate at any time but the only scheduled meeting is for September 21.
Teachers at Abington Heights could potentially strike through most of this month.