Parents and residents in the Palisades School District spoke up in support of district teachers during Monday night’s School Board of Directors meeting stating their disappointment over the stalled teacher contract negotiations. Many of those teachers were also in attendance, a strong reminder that they have been working without a contract since July.
One resident praised the teachers and their commitment to continue teaching despite the “tremendous challenges” that they’ve faced over the course of the past several years; the Covid pandemic, insults and unfounded accusations from right-wing extremist groups, and a nationwide uptick in school shootings were just a few mentioned. Another resident, Nicole Grasso, spoke up as a “grateful parent of the Palisades School district” asking the board to “recognize the talent” the district was “lucky” to have. Grasso also vocalized her wish that the board would provide district teachers “a path” leading towards competitive pay in effort to retain their services.
“These teachers are highly valued both by students and parents and I am seeing them leave for more secure opportunities,”said Grasso. “I ask the school board to recognize the landscape of education in this present year and provide a framework that is dedicated to the teachers as much as they are dedicated to us.” Her comments were met with loud applause by both fellow residents and district teachers.
The board’s Ad Hoc Professional Staff Negotiations Committee Chairperson James Hallowell was not in attendance on Monday and did not participate in the meeting, though he did tune in via the district’s online streaming link. Board Vice President Silvia LeBlanc, who is also on the negotiations committee, expressed her thanks and gratitude to the teachers and announced that they were “hopeful” that a resolution would be struck by the end of the year. The teachers are represented by the Palisades Education Association (PEA). LeBlanc’s comments were more than what Hallowell has stated all year since the committee was formed with the past two meetings resulting in barely coherent one liners. If a negotiated contract isn’t settled soon, the district stands the chance that it will lose even more teachers, quite possibly for the much larger and better funded districts of Pennridge, Quakertown, and Central Bucks, all of which border Palisades.