Contract Talks Stalled in Harlem School District

By: NIchole Vrsansky
By: NIchole Vrsansky

As contract talks between Harlem teachers, support staff and administrators continue, the possibility of a strike still exists. A strike would mean the first day of school would be delayed, and parents have already started looking for plan B.

Normally things start slowing down at the Harlem Community Center this time of year, but recently the phones have been ringing off the hook.

"We have had a lot of parents call and we just tell them that yes we are open when the Harlem school district is not open," says Mary Anne Mathwich.

School would be cancelled on Monday if negotiations between teachers, support staff and administrators are unsuccessful. Teachers met with board members Thursday afternoon, but talks remain at a standstill.

"I think it's a fair statement to say that we're not making any progress at this point,” says Union Representative Lynn Kearney.

The possibility of a strike leaves parents looking for alternatives:

"They're just wanting to know if we're going to be here so they'll have a plan B for themselves if school's not open," says Mathwich.

The Community Center is gearing up just incase they get hit with an influx of kids. Additional staff will be on call to pitch in if necessary and counselors are already thinking about a game plan.

"We'll probably have a lot of kids, so hopefully the weather's nice and we can go outside and do stuff," says Camp Counselor Brandi Mitchell.

The center can handle about 45 kids. They don't expect to see more than that on Monday if there is a strike.

Teachers, support staff and administrators are scheduled to meet with the federal mediator Friday. Besides wages and benefits, the main sticking point has been contract length. The district would like a one-year deal. Teachers and support staff want a three-year agreement.


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