Contractless School Union Fills Board Meeting With Black Shirts
Negotiations with Lower Merion School District are scheduled for Thursday.
Lower Merion Education Association members dressed in black shirts comprised a standing-room-only crowd at Monday's Board of School Directors meeting.
The 1,300-member school staff union's contract expired at the end of June, and members are working for now under the provisions of the old one. The union and Lower Merion School District officials are set to negotiate Thursday, union president Chris SantaMaria and district Superintendent Chris McGinley said—the first session since Aug. 7.
The first official teacher day is Tuesday, Aug. 28.
SantaMaria said the uniform black shirts were meant "to underscore our disappointment" with not having a contract yet.
District officials have adhered to a no-comment policy on the ongoing negotiations.
Interaction between the union and the board Monday night was limited to comments by Aimee Avellino, first vice president of the union and a Bala Cynwyd resident. Public comment is typically reserved for district taxpayers.
The Cynwyd Elementary School teacher attested to different ways Lower Merion staff contribute outside the parameters of their contract, including helping parents with behavioral plans at home, attending students' extracurricular activities and assisting needy families. A written statement was submitted, and Avellino told the board, "I think you'll enjoy reading more about the ways our teachers and support professionals contribute," getting a long round of applause from her colleagues.
The board usually does not respond to public comment that does not include a direct question, and it did not in this case either, instead moving on to hear a parent's question about PSSA testing.
Also at Monday's meeting, the board approved the hiring of four administrators:
- Scott Weinstein, assistant principal for Bala Cynwyd Middle School
- Christopher Hall, student achievement programs
- Kimberly Fraser, secondary special education
- Brian Cote, technology