BETHEL TWP. — After rejecting a salary offer from the board of education last week, the Bethel Education Association announced on Monday that they will not participate in events outside their contract time, including open houses that are scheduled for next week.
BEA President Traci Brewer said that while teachers are looking forward to the start of school, they will not be working outside the hours agreed to in their contracts and will not be participating in any voluntary events until a new contract is agreed upon.
Classrooms will be open for parents and students to visit and many teachers will be outside the school representing the BEA, Brewer said.
Superintendent Virginia Potter noted that the open houses will go on as planned. The middle and elementary school open houses are planned for Aug. 31, high school freshman orientation is set for Aug. 28, and the kindergarten orientation is Sept. 5.
“We are excited about everyone returning to school, especially with all the positive changes and new high school addition,” Potter said.
The BEA rejected an offer from the board on Aug. 17, Brewer said.
“We’re at an impasse,” she said, adding that a mediator will be brought in.
According to the BEA, the board and the association have not been able to come to an agreement on salaries and experience recognition. During the recession, teachers agreed to salary freezes and step increases have not been reinstated.
In a statement, the organization explained that veteran teachers’ salaries have been frozen at the same experience level for several years, while new teachers with similar training and experience have been hired on at higher salaries.
“We hope it’s resolved soon,” Brewer said. “We’re teachers and we love our jobs.”
Potter added that while there are “tough issues at the negotiation table as it relates to money, I know that both sides are working diligently to resolve them.”
“Bethel has outstanding teachers and staff along with a dedicated board whose main focus has always been the students,” she said. “Even in the midst of present challenges, I believe decisions will be made that satisfy all parties involved and provide a stronger school system for our children.”