Four Months without a Contract, Palisades Teachers Are Frustrated and Speaking Up

Compared to other local school districts, Palisades teachers receive among the lowest professional salaries in Bucks County.

Last week a large sign went up on a property located right next to the Palisades Middle School, located along state route 412, stating that the Palisades School District teachers have been working without a contract since July 1. Many of those teachers were in attendance at the Oct. 19 Palisades School Board meeting. During public commentary Amy Glascott, a resident of Tinicum Township and Palisades High School psychologist, spoke on behalf of the teachers and professional staff who are frustrated with the district as negotiations for a new contract drag on. Glascott addressed the School Board, reminding them that Palisades teachers have now been working for four months without a contract. She also addressed several situations that Palisades teachers found themselves in over the past two years;  a dry reminder that during an unprecedented global pandemic, Palisades teachers and professional staff were on the front lines. 

“We were one of the first, if not the first, school in our area to offer students the option of full-time, face-to-face learning in August of 2020,” said Glascott, continuing on by pointing out the full extent of flexibility that was demanded of teachers and how they continually accepted and fulfilled each one of those demands.  

She continued: “When we were asked to return to work in August of 2020, exposing ourselves to illness after months of safety and isolation during the lockdown, we did it. When we were asked to leave our families to come into work, with many of our children working online at home because their schools were not open, and childcare was impossible to find, we did it. When we were asked to develop new and different ways of teaching; working online, avoiding paper and books, and using new and innovative technologies to enhance student learning, we did it. When we were asked to go above and beyond to help our students who were struggling with academic, emotional, behavioral, and medical issues because of the pandemic. We did it. And when we were asked for a one-year extension to our last contract to help the district with budgetary issues, we did it.”

Glascott’s comments were followed by a lively round of extended applause, a nice show of support from fellow teachers and members of the community, although only a few board members decided to respond. 

However, the support coming from the community was refreshing considering what’s happening in the neighboring districts of Pennridge and Central Bucks who have come under attack, teachers included, by far-right school board members and parents, conspiracy hacks, and the political right bent on book bans and the demonization of LGBTQ+ student communities. Fortunately, no such turmoil has infected Palisades though the district isn’t immune to its own share of issues as the teacher contract negotiations have thus far proved. 

Palisades teachers deserve better than what is being offered and all the thanks and praise from the school board have been “appreciated,” as Glascott affirmed Wednesday night, though she also contended there needed to be “action behind those words” by offering a contract that truly showed the appreciation and value the teachers and professional staff clearly deserve. 

According to an official statement by Palisades Education Association Co-President Mark Chilton, the PEA has been in negotiations with the District for almost a year.  

“Despite comparable revenues to similarly sized School Districts in Bucks County, Palisades has among the lowest millage rates and professional salaries,” said Chilton. 

Nonetheless, Chilton praises the PEA educators that had “shown up for our students every day since August 2020, when we were among the first area schools to return for in-person instruction. We have continued to show up for our students this year, despite our last contract expiring at the end of June. We continue to bargain with the District for an agreement that honors our students by supporting retention of our excellent faculty.”

An email was sent to Palisades School Board president Bob Musantry regarding the school board meeting though as of yet there has been no response. 

And as for the teachers? 

They are still showing up every day conducting their classrooms because they are dedicated to the education of our students which, at the very least, is why they deserve the full support from both district administration and from the community. 

But for how long can the community expect them to work without reaching a deal? 

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Picture of Amy Knecht

Amy Knecht

Amy Knecht is a local writer, activist and student of American history. She occasionally guest hosts Raging Chicken Press's The Friday Show with Kevin Mahoney discussing local school boards and PA politics.

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