NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. (WHTM) -
A potential teacher salary freeze is at the center of a controversy in the West Shore School District, but it's not because teachers are against it.
The school board asked for the unconditional pay freeze in order to help the budget for next school year.
The union representing teachers said they are not against a pay freeze. However, they claim the board is refusing to talk to the union about it, and have shut leaders out of discussions.
"We want to help, but in order for that to happen there has to be conversation about it," Eric Graybill, with the West Shore Education Association said.
He added, " I think its unfortunate that they (the school board) are demonizing the teachers."
The district fired back with a statement in which school board president Dr. Anthony Tezik said, "It is apparent WSEA does not wish to be part of the solution, but rather is more interested in creating discord between the board and the professional staff."
The statement also said it was disingenuous to say the board refused to meet. It indicated Dr. Tezik met with WSEA leaders, but during that meeting the union, "continued to once again seek self-serving contractual concessions from the board in exchange for taking a pay freeze."
Parents feel like they are stuck in the middle and wish both sides can work something out for students' sake.
"That's why they all should all just get along and get together and work something out," Don Wiebel, a middle school parent said.
The teachers are in the third year of a four-year contract. The district said it will continue to take the necessary steps to finalize the budget with or without the union's help. Last month, the school board voted to close Lemoyne Middle School.