Approximately 100 attendees gathered for a spirited rally immediately prior to Wednesday’s Pennridge School Board meeting to speak out about the board’s recent decision to bring in an outside consultant and the soon to expire teacher contract.
The rally was organized by Laura Foster and Adrienne King.
Bob Cousineau, a Pennridge social studies teacher, told The Beacon that he is concerned with the board’s approval of an open-ended contract with Vermilion to rewrite curriculum.
The Vermilion contract appeared on the April board meeting agenda just 24 hours prior to the meeting.and has close ties to Hillsdale College, a private Christian university that aligns with Libertarian viewpoints and seeks to defund public education and eradicate teacher unions.
“From a fiscal standpoint, why would you pay someone three times the rate that you’re already paying the teachers here at Pennridge to do,” he asked. “And you’re hiring someone whose qualifications are inferior. It doesn’t make any sense from a fiscal standpoint.”
Many at the rally spoke about the contract between teachers and the district that is due to expire at the end of June.
“It’s just a whole big ploy to dismantle public education,” said a teacher who requested anonymity and had, just days prior, interviewed with another district.
“It’s like a reality TV show. It feels like teachers and their voices aren’t being heard. I can’t continue to go to a district where my time, my education, my experience isn’t valued,” the teacher added.
The district has reportedly lost 39 teachers over the last three years largely due to salaries that are not competitive with other Bucks County school districts.
Following the rally, many parents and students filed into the school’s auditorium with the intention of making public comment to support district teachers and voice disapproval of the recently executed Vermilion contract.
Teachers at the event also chose to attend the board meeting and signed up to speak to the need for good faith negotiations between the board and the union to finalize an equitable contract for future salaries and benefits.