The Easton Area School Board has approved a deal with the school district's teachers union, which will save taxpayers $28.7 million over the next four years and saves 160 jobs.
"You can breathe back there," board President Kerry Myers told teachers in the audience Thursday night after the agreement was finalized.
The Easton Area Education Association -- the teachers' union -- had approved the measure, calling it a victory for students, who won't see class sizes increased or programs cut.
“We want Easton to continue to graduate life long learners," teacher Jena Brodhead said, addressing the board with a prepared statement that referenced everything from Oprah's teacher showing up in her show's finale to Dead Poets' Society.
Yet there's still a lot of work to do, representatives from both sides said Thursday. There's still a $2.4 million gap in the $133 million budget for 2011-2012, said Marie Guidry, the district business manager.
"It is not a final solution to our long term fiscal crisis," board member Jennifer Holzberger said of the deal.
"Tomorrow morning, we start negotiating again. This process is not going to stop," Myers said.
Ronnie DelBacco, the Republican candidate seeking the seat Myers is vacating, told board members their decision was premature, and that they should continue negotiating.
“It kicks the can down the road and just puts a band-aid on the problem," DelBacco said. "I can’t call my mortgage company and say ‘I can almost pay my mortgage.’”
DelBacco will face Democrat Frank Pintabone in the fall.
Helen Jones, a district bus driver -- and member of the Teamsters union, which represents the bus drivers, -- commended the teachers.
"What you gave up was tremendous," she said. "We took a freeze, but that’s nothing compared to what you gave."
In addition to the salary freeze, the teachers also saw their tuition reimbursement cut in half. Their contract -- which would have expired in 2013 -- now runs out in 2015.