West York High School teachers walk into school after meeting outside as a passive protest of contract issues. The teachers have been without a contract
West York High School teachers walk into school after meeting outside as a passive protest of contract issues. The teachers have been without a contract since summer. (Bill Kalina photo )

Many West York Area School District teachers have been cutting down on their above-and-beyond type of unpaid duties as they hit half a year without a contract.

Teachers union president Gus Schulz said teachers have in recent weeks been less willing to get to school earlier and leave school later than they are contractually obligated to do, as they "feel a little taken for granted."

West York teachers saw their contract run out last summer and have been in negotiations for a new one for more than a year.

Their last contract had a pay raise around 2.5 to 3 percent a year. Schulz said West York ranks in the lower tier of the county for salary. According to the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the average West York salary for teachers is $62,623.

Schulz said the turning point for teachers has been West York's push to consider $42 million in building projects at a time when teachers don't have a settled contract.

"It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to us," Schulz said.

Schulz emphasized that the union has long had a good relationship with the district and school board, and that a strike or any such action is not on the table.

But teachers did feel it's important they show their worth, Schulz said, by having the district see how much teachers do outside of what's required in their contracts.

Schulz said teachers have not held back on anything during normal school hours, however.

Superintendent Emilie Lonardi said West York traditionally doesn't comment on ongoing contract negotiations.

Schulz said it might appear to some parents as if teachers are going in late, but actually, they are going in at the time their contract states. That means they aren't getting to school early to do extra preparation or staying after the school day ends to be available to students or do work, something they had done on their own time. "It's frustrating. We love our kids, we love what we do," he said.

Several York County school districts in recent years have had teachers take a pay freeze. Schulz said he understands the reality of the economy and that teachers are willing to talk about what concessions need to be made.

But that's hard to swallow when $42 million worth of spending is on the table, he added.

The potential projects include security updates to entrances at Trimmer and Lincolnway elementaries. Schulz said that project, in light of Sandy Hook, remains important.

Other plans include a $23 million high school renovation to add up to 16 classrooms, expand the cafeteria, and add a new gymnasium; the school was built in 1968. The district also is considering adding to Wallace Elementary and the administration building.

- Reach Andrew Shaw at ashaw@yorkdispatch.com