Teacher contract talks resume in South Middleton

The South Middleton Education Association and the school board met Wednesday night for the first time since the board rejected a fact finder's report early last month.

Frustrated teachers held a rally outside the administration building. Many held signs and chanted. They have been working without a contract for 284 days.

“Frustrated is an understatement…we are ready to move forward,” said Mike Freese, the chief negotiator for the South Middleton Education Association.

“I am surprised…didn't expect it,” said Tom Merlie, president of the South Middleton School Board. “The teachers are passionate. They are passionate about their profession, they're passionate about their kids. They are passionate about their pay and their benefits. They are just showing their passion.”

The sticking point is health care benefits, including spousal exclusion. That's something the union does not support.

Leading up to the meeting, both sides appeared optimistic. However, afterward, Merlie told abc27 News he was disappointed and said the board even abandoned its position on the spousal waiver “in favor of a more favorable cost cutting position in terms of benefits.”

Freese said the meeting “didn't solve anything…but we are working forward.”

Another meeting is scheduled on May 1.

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