Members of the Upper Perkiomen Education Association display their signs in front of
the west side entrance of the district's education center prior to Monday's school board
Instructional preparation time has emerged as the main issue in stalled contract negotiations between the Upper Perkiomen School District and its teachers. On Monday, two-thirds of the Upper Perkiomen Education Association (UPEA) appeared at a school board meeting.
Philip Detwiler, the association's vice president, described it as a show of solidarity by the members in their opposition to a proposed reduction in their prep time. Teachers have worked more than 160 days without a new contract. They have operated under the terms of the old agreement, a three-year deal that expired on June 30.
According to Detwiler, deliberations hit a snag in August when the district proposed taking away teachers' daily prep time. He said it brought negotiations to a screeching halt.
"Without that time, our people wouldn't be able to do their job," Detwiler said. "It would be debilitating."
By 5:30 p.m. Monday, approximately 155 UPEA members lined up at both entrances to the Education Center, located on East Buck Road in Upper Hanover. At 6:45 p.m., they filled the corridor between both doors. Wearing matching blue collared shirts, they held yellow signs with blue letters that read: "Working without a contract since July 1st," "Teacher Retention Requires Respect," and "We Deserve a Fair Contract."
Approximately five minutes before the start of the 7 p.m. meeting, the teachers filed into the room. Some took a seat in the audience, while most stood in the back and held a sign over their head.
"We wanted to make sure, in a respectable way, that our members voiced their concerns to the entire school board," Detwiler said Tuesday. "I'm not sure the entire board ...