More than 100 teachers attend Quaker Valley school board meeting as contract negotiations continue

SEWICKLEY, Pa. — More than 100 teachers packed into the Quaker Valley school board meeting Monday night as they continue to fight for a new contract.

Parents stood shoulder to shoulder with educators and spoke on their behalf. The ongoing contract negotiations prevent teachers from speaking out.

“They really are the backbone of our community and we’re just here to cheer them on as you can hear and support them in any way we can,” said Holly Teegarden, a parent and high school PTA president.

Parents rallied around teachers and cheered them on as they walked into the school board meeting at Edgeworth Elementary.

“It’s not just during the school day; they’re involved in this community, said parent Addie Sochats. “They support their students. They cheer for the students, so we’re going to be out here cheering for them.”

The show of support follows months of stagnant contract negotiations between the Quaker Valley teachers’ union and school administrators. Teachers have been working without a new contract since July. Talks have stalled around pay increases, better benefits and work environment.

“They’ve been negotiating for 11 months. They exhausted,” said Tracey Hartman, a parent and elementary school PTA president.

During the meeting Teegarden spoke directly to board members and said, “Give the teachers what they deserve, what you promised four years ago. The perception is the board doesn’t care about the teachers.”

School district leaders said they can’t talk about specifics as the bargaining process continues, but assured the community they are committed to reaching a fair deal.

“We do thank you for your time, for your hard work and for the care,” said Superintendent Dr. Tammy Andreyko. “We are dedicated to bring this contract to a successful completion.”

School Board President Jonathan Kuzma agreed.

“We want to make a responsible and informed decision as a board,” he said.

Tracey Hartman has two kids in the district. She said teachers have told her they don’t feel supported and now fears they could leave.

“We’re going to keep losing teachers from the field and that’s not what we want,” Hartman said. “We have some of best teachers in Quaker Valley and if we don’t start supporting them, they’re going to be leaving as well.”

There is no timetable on when a final contract will be voted on.

Though several parents said they support a strike, teachers have said they don’t want to do that because their students would suffer.

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