The Tamaqua Area School District and the Tamaqua Education Association have ratified a four-year contract.

The school board gave its approval during a special meeting Thursday evening. The vote was 8-0, with Dr. Thomas Rottet absent.

"This process has taken a long time, however, the main focus has always been what is best for the taxpayers and the children whom we serve," said officials in an issued press release.

The contract is valid from Aug. 1, 2010, until July 30, 2014. Details of the contract were not revealed.

"In the 2010-2011 school year, there will be a wage freeze. All other language for this year will remain the same as the contract that expired at the end of the 2010 school year," the press release stated.

"Over the next four years, the average increase will be 2.4 percent over the life of the contract.

"Total concessions that were made by the association will save between $125,000 and $200,000 for the school district."

Facing difficult economic times and a $2.3 million budget shortfall for the school district, negotiations for the contract took place for more than a year.

"The union concessions will help close that gap," added officials. "The district administrators and school board wish to thank all employees of the district for being patient and for conducting meetings in a professional manner.

"The taxpayers should be proud of the continued cooperation between the staff and management of the Tamaqua Area School District in bringing the best education to the community."

The size of the state budget and the levels of public education funding will remain a key issue in years to come.

"In response to the governor's request for a pay freeze, TEA hopes that the legislature gets back to the business of making sound decisions that benefit the children of the commonwealth and fully fund public education," the release stated.

Also at Thursday's meeting, the board approved the one-year length expulsion of two students for violation of the district's discipline code. The expulsions were recommended by the board's hearing committee.