Shikellamy teachers address school board, public during work session

May 8—SUNBURY — Nearly 100 Shikellamy teachers stood outside the high school before they packed a school board work session Tuesday night to address directors and the public.

The teachers' collective bargaining agreement expires June 30, according to Jessica Sabol, of Northeastern Region Advocacy.

According to Shikellamy Education Association member Michael Becker, a survey of teachers released last week shows 68 percent of them are considering leaving the district and 98 percent feel undervalued.

Becker addressed the board in the library on Tuesday and said there has only been two negotiating meetings, and district solicitor Mike Levin canceled a recent meeting with less than a week's notice.

Several residents and a few from outside the district, along with former teachers also spoke and urged the board to come to an agreement quickly, which drew applause from the packed library.

One of the out-of-town speakers urged the board to look at the leadership inside the district and evaluate why the teachers feel unappreciated.

Board members Tom Webb, Julie Brosius and Mike Thomas said they appreciate the teachers.

Webb said he and directors Lori Garman and Slade Shreck are on the negotiating team. Webb said when he saw the list of eight items the teachers were looking for, he felt it was an easy fix.

Brosius said she was unaware of anything going on, but what she heard from the community was unsettling, and she wanted teachers to know she was with them.

When Webb began to speak, he informed the teachers he would do all he could to be fair, while Thomas said he has children in the district and said he hears how the teachers care about their students.

Sabol said the union is working to secure a fair, reasonable, and affordable contract that will ensure Shikellamy remains competitive with surrounding school districts. According to PSEA, Shikellamy's starting teacher salary is $48,500.

"Considering the ongoing statewide teacher shortage, the Shikellamy School Board should be doing whatever it can to attract and retain highly qualified professionals to the Shikellamy School District," Sabol said.

The district and teachers union are scheduled to hold a negotiating session May 16.