NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB)-Four years is too long to wait.
That was the message that more than a hundred North Tonawanda teachers sent in an informational picket Wednesday evening, before the School Board meeting to bring attention to the fact that they’ve been without a contract for over four years now.
One of the main sticking points is healthcare. Right now, teachers don’t pay any premium themselves.
“We’re not opposed to paying it.” said North Tonawanda United teachers President Ann Lentsch. “You gotta take a look at what the management of the district pays. They pay 5% healthcare. Should we pay more than 5% healthcare? Probably not.”
But School Board President Cheryl McMahon says the Board has to balance what this district can actually afford down the road. “We really want to compensate the teachers for their talents and for all they do for the school system, but we also want to make sure that the district is financially healthy.”
Superintendent Gregory Woytila says Board members also have a responsibility to the taxpayers. “When the board members run for elections, they go door to door and hear that the taxes are just out of control, you know everything has gone up and yet their wages have not.”
Special Ed Teacher, Andy Summers says each teacher has already given back about $1,600 a year .”And that was in a time to save programs and teachers.”
The superintendent says an agreement is closer than ever, maybe weeks away, but the teachers packed the Board room to show they’re tired of waiting.
These contract talks also come at a time when when North Tonawanda is spending about $40 million on new athletic fields and other projects.