SCRANTON, Pa. -- The embattled Scranton School District is faced with more tough times.
First a financial audit by the state. That led to some criminal charges. Now the teachers are taking their ax to grind with the district.
They say they've been working without a contract for two years.
Teachers took to the street to voice their frustration this afternoon.
“What do we want?” yelled teacher Patrick Festa into a megaphone.
“Contract!” shouted the crowd of teachers gathered in front of the Scranton School District’s Administration Building on North Washington Avenue in Scranton.
“When do we want it?” said Festa.
“Now!” teachers answered back.
Armed with megaphones and signs, teachers in the Scranton School District marched outside the district`s administration building in downtown Scranton.
“They don't know what that means, the word negotiate,” said Scranton Federation of Teachers Union President Rosemary Boland. “They don't know what a fair contract means to all of us.”
The teachers union says teachers have been working without a contract for roughly two years and are heading into another school year without any sign a new contract is in the works.
Boland says talks with the school board are going nowhere.
“I believe what we're negotiating with are rookies and they don't even understand the process,” said Boland. “There's a way you do it, there's a way to present your positions and if you decide to withdraw an article, you withdraw it formally, in front of the mediator. We don't see that happening.”
This comes as the district has made numerous cuts to staff and programs as it tries to get financially sound while under watch by the state after a scathing audit.
That state audit led the state attorney general to arrest a mechanic who is accused of overcharging the district thousands of dollars.
“We want our art classes back, we want our chorus and bands back, we want our family and consumer sciences back,” said Festa into the megaphone.
“[Dr. Alexis Kirijan] cut the languages that are offered to our students. She cut the [family and consumer sciences] program. She cut music, she got rid of our libraries, got rid of 16 teachers,” said teacher Dawn Hefner.
Students attending Friday night's football game say their teachers work hard and should be treated better by the district.
“They do things for us that they pay for with their own money and they're teaching us things that they think we need to learn and my teachers are really great,” said Abby Megotz, an eighth grader at Scranton Intermediate School.
“We lost our sewing teacher and she did the ski club and all that and I'm into the ski club and I liked sewing and we just got rid of that,” said Shannon Ryan, another eighth grader at Scranton Intermediate.
Newswatch 16 did reach out to the school district's administration for a comment. We did not hear back.