Dear Ambridge Area Parents and Stakeholders:
We know that a strike would bring undue difficulty and stress to students and their families. If teachers walk off the job, the District will provide timely information through its website. On our website, http://www.ambridge.k12.pa.us/
, we have prepared answers to Frequently Asked Questions to guide parents and caregivers if there is a strike and schools are closed. We have also created a special email account for contacting the District with strike related questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are disappointed in the union’s demands which, if enacted, would set a dangerous precedent and put severe financial strain on our District and its taxpayers. Their bargaining position ignores financial realities and casts aside short- and long-term responsible financial planning. And perhaps most importantly, their bargaining position does not reflect a commitment to principled actions, the kind of actions that all parents expect from their children’s teachers. Our best teachers – and there are many in this District – share this sentiment.
It's imperative that everyone realize the facts relative to these contract talks. Key issues of dispute involve wage increases and benefits. Despite our effort to put forth creative solutions, months of collaborative talks have come to a standstill. Unfortunately, a state-appointed, independent Fact-Finder could not harmonize our positions. The teachers’ contract expired on June 30, 2015, and we met with the union more than 16 times. We reached tentative agreements on smaller issues, but could not agree on those that significantly impact the District’s budget.
To put this into perspective, the state’s highest performing and wealthiest districts are not granting increases even close to what the union proposed. Under their current contract, teachers got some of the largest raises in Beaver County. We have declining enrollment. Last year alone, the District lost over $1 million dollars as students left our District for charter schools. Although the District could have called for furloughs, we kept teacher staffing levels constant.
We have a flat tax base and our taxpayers are burdened with the highest millage rate in the County at 75.86. Our benefits, namely health insurance, are some of the best deals in the world. Today, our teachers pay only $25 a month for full family coverage. Medical insurance just for our teachers for 2016-17 will cost the District $2.8 million – a noteworthy line item in our $46 million operating budget.
Just as we balance our own family checkbooks, each of us on this Board believes we must stand as responsible stewards and make sure the District operates within its means. The Board cannot and will not bend to the union’s outrageous demands. We stand united. And we urge all of you to stand united with us. Please visit the District’s website to learn more.
Ambridge Area School Board