Teachers at the Ambridge Area School District went on strike Dec. 12 to demand a higher salary after their four year contract ended in June of 2015 and numerous negotiations sessions failed.
The negotiations between the district and the union failed because the teachers wanted better health care, wages, and retirement incentives. Ambridge Area School District said that teachers, on average, earn about a $60,000 salary and pay only $25 a month for family health insurance. The union wanted to raise teacher salaries, which would cost the district about $36,000 more per teacher for five years. Ambridge school’s enrollment has increasingly been declining, with only 3,000 or more students
being affected by this strike. They also have the highest school tax in Beaver County. The strike ended earlier this month, and school has started back up for the students.
Students at Lincoln Park from Ambridge had their own opinions on the strike. “$60,000 per year is pretty good in my opinion,” says Mason Ream, a junior Media major. “Plus, with the low prices they’re paying for healthcare, it’s a nice salary. The teachers should appreciate what they have.”
On the contrary, Ciera Hammond, a junior Media Major, says, “I think they [the teachers] deserve it. I mean, they saved a house from burning down and stopped it because there were oxygen tanks inside.” During the strike, five of the teachers striking had dropped their pickets and ran towards a house that had caught on fire.
Would Lincoln Park teachers go on strike anytime in the future? First, teachers would have to unionize, which has not happened in Lincoln Park’s 11-year history. “At least within the next year or two I really don’t see a movement by the teachers,” says Dr. Butterini, Lincoln Park’s educational consultant, who has been a high school principal and has years of experience in area school systems.
“Usually unions are formed when the teachers feel they’re being treated unfairly,” he said. “Either they’re not getting a decent salary, or their health benefits are not good, or the working conditions are not good.” He went on to say, “I think Lincoln Park does very, very well in treating the teachers. The school board treats the teachers very well with their salaries, with health benefits…I think the working conditions for the teachers, as well as for the kids, are very good.”