The Lehighton Area Education Association met last week with members of the Lehighton Area School District's School Board to further negotiations towards a fair and equitable contract.

The LAEA educators have been working without a contract since August 31.

A spokesman for the LAEA said negotiations began over ten months ago and at times progress has been going well.

Much of the contract has been agreed upon with major points such as salaries and retirement still unresolved, the spokesman said. At the last meeting there was some movement on salaries and retirement but nothing has been agreed upon.

He said another negotiation session is scheduled for next week between the school board and the teacher's union. It is the LAEA's desire to settle the contract at that time, the spokesman said.

The LAEA has offered binding arbitration to prevent a job action. Unfortunately, without an agreement the teacher's union may be forced into a strike, he said

For almost 28 years the Lehighton Area School District has been able to come to an agreement with the teacher's union and prevent a job action. The teacher's union is hopeful that a contract can be agreed upon next week.

The LAEA said the professional teaching staff was instrumental in raising the district's PSSA scores. All of the schools in the Lehighton School District met AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) and surpassed the state averages.

The Mahoning Elementary School finished in the top 91 percent in the state and is listed in the “Top 50 Schools in the Lehigh Valley". The high school did extremely well by increasing their math scores by 24 percent and their reading scores by 31 percent.

Eighth grade students achieved a 17 percent increase over their previous math score. The eighth grade middle school students scored 87.2 percent advanced/proficient in reading. This was an 8.5 percent increase over their previous score.

Lehighton schools across the board ranked with the highest in the state on writing, noted the LAEA. Although the Lehighton students surpassed the state averages and made AYP, the teachers' salaries fall far below the state average in teacher salaries.

The teachers' association urges “community members and parents who are interested in supporting education and providing excellence in the classrooms" to attend the next school board meeting on Monday, October 19, at 7 p.m. in the district's administration building, Union Street, Lehighton.