``I don't know how funny you think it is, but I don't think it's funny we're here,'' she said.
John P. McKelligott of Lansdowne, the school board's head negotiator, said, ``We're extremely disappointed. We think all sides are disappointed.''
The teachers called the strike Thursday after talks broke down Wednesday night. The strike began yesterday after the futile session Sunday. During two hours of picketing yesterday, the teachers were joined by parents and students carrying signs urging a contract settlement.
Many parents and children have recently come to see themselves as participants rather than spectators in the strike, worrying about missed school time and scrambling to accommodate work schedules.
For the children, the time off could jeopardize vacations. ``We're supposed to go to St. Louis for my aunt's wedding at Christmas,'' said Sam Fryer, 12, of Lansdowne, a seventh grader at Penn Wood East Junior High School.
Fryer said being at home ``gets really boring after about a week.''
His friend, Sean Sheehan, 12, also of Lansdowne and a Penn Wood East student, said, ``Most of the time I'm just sitting around the house trying to find something good on television.''
The teachers and staff have been working without a contract since July 1994. While there was hope early on that the district could avoid a repeat of the 1990-91 school year, when a six-week strike occurred, that hope faded as time wore on and points of contention - salary, class size and preparation time - remained unresolved.
The school board's latest offer is a six-year contract tied to a proposal to lengthen the school day by 30 minutes. The proposal calls for no raises for the first three years, a $1,000 bonus in the third year, and raises of 4.1 percent, 4 percent and 3.86 percent in the last three years.
Board negotiator McKelligott said the offer was in response to a teacher proposal that would give nurses, counselors and other nonteaching staff preparation time during the school day. That proposal would mean hiring additional personnel to cover classes, he said.
Van Roy-Ames said the teachers have made proposals that wouldn't require hiring.
McKelligott called the board's proposal ``educationally sound'' and said the extra time could be used for meetings or lesson preparation. Besides, he said, ``we regard our teachers as salaried employees, not hourly employees.''
As for the board's salary proposal, raises could not be given in the first three years without damaging the district's already troubled finances, McKelligott said.