The Palmerton Area Education Association has declined to take a pay freeze as part of the latest round in negotiations.

Board President Barry Scherer read a prepared statement on Wednesday that said the district on May 24 again requested that the PAEA accept a pay freeze.

"With this request was the promise that those employees who have already been approved as Training and Special Training Advisors would be exempt from the freeze and could continue to receive their annual stipend as promised so that their retirement would not be negatively affected by such a freeze," Scherer said. "In addition, the district would be able to save approximately four or so teaching positions with the savings achieved by the freeze."

Instead, Scherer said the PAEA "has flatly refused this offer, and continues to request an extension on their contract, which expires at the end of the 2011-12 school year."

"When we already know that conditions will be at least as bad, if not worse than they are this year, the district feels strongly that next year, with such an extension of the contract, we will be faced with crippling financial circumstances specifically related to that contract," he said. "The bargaining unit has it within their power to save four to five positions this year, thus reducing the number of teacher furloughs by more than 28-percent. They continue to refuse to do so."