Palmerton Area School Board has rejected a counter offer from the Palmerton Area Education Association.
As a result, the district remains in talks with its teachers' union after the latest proposal for a one-year wage freeze was countered with a wage freeze and several non-monetary concession requests by the teachers.
In a prepared statement sent to the TIMES NEWS, Brad Landis, president of the PAEA, said the organization "is extremely disappointed that the board has chosen not to accept the overwhelmingly endorsed PAEA proposal."
"Our membership was willing to endure sacrifice for themselves and their families in order to save as many programs and jobs as possible in the Palmerton Area School District, even with the understanding that teaching positions would be terminated," Landis said. "The teachers wanted to show Palmerton that we are good community partners in public education."
Landis said the proposal "would have provided the district with a blank check well in excess of $250,000 to preserve the educational programs in the 2011-2012 school year."
"The board's decision disappoints the teachers, but makes it even more disappointing for teachers who are lifelong Palmerton residents, former students, taxpayers, and vested stakeholders in the future of the district."
Over the past few weeks, Landis said the PAEA has met with the board in order to develop an agreement.
The proposal sought concessions from both parties, with the Association asking for non-monetary concessions, he said. The board was not willing to move from its position and negotiate items with the PAEA, Landis said.
Landis said the PAEA's one-year wage freeze proposal was overwhelmingly endorsed by the teachers, and that PAEA strongly recommended that the district adopt the proposal in order to save much needed monies to benefit the students and taxpayers of the Palmerton Area School District.
"In a time in which funds are desperately needed, we had hoped that the board would accept our proposal," he said. "The Palmerton Area Education Association believes that today is a sad day for the Palmerton School District Community, especially the students."
On Tuesday, school board President Barry Scherer told the TIMES NEWS the board rejected the union's counter offer because the concessions came with significant requests.