Schools in the North Penn School District, Montgomery County's largest, will open as scheduled Tuesday after a county judge yesterday ordered teachers to report to work.

The district sought an injunction Friday night to bar the teachers union from carrying out its threat to not staff classrooms Tuesday - the first day for 12,700 students - because of actions it said the board had taken.

Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas C. Branca said a formal hearing on the dispute would be conducted by Thursday.

Spokesman Rob Broderick said the union was "extremely unlikely" to take action before the hearing.

The contract for the 1,070-member union expired Tuesday. Talks broke off Friday afternoon, and no new bargaining had been agreed to as of last night.

Union officials said the school board had made work-rule changes that amounted to a lockout, mainly adding 20 minutes to the elementary-school schedule. The board contended that any work stoppage would be illegal without 48 hours' notice.

The district argued, it said in a statement last night, that "children's safety would be jeopardized in that the district was intentionally given notice of the work stoppage at a late time and date, when parents and children could not be appropriately notified of the potential cancellation of the first day of school."

Under the agreed-upon order by Branca, terms and conditions of the previous contract will be in effect pending the hearing.

The board yesterday also invited the union to participate in nonbinding arbitration, said Stephen Hladik, board spokesman, adding that schools would remain open during that process.

"We're still discussing it," Broderick responded last night.

Hladik said he was pleased with the agreement to open schools for the district, based in Lansdale. A delay would have been a "logistical nightmare" after receiving notice on the Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend, he said.

Broderick contended that the union had wanted to give notice as required, but that the superintendent had not been not available and the assistant superintendent refused to take it.

Before talks ended, the board offered a two-year contract with average raises of 2.4 percent in the first year and 3 percent in the second. The union has proposed a three-year agreement with raises of 3.5 percent in the first year and 4 percent in the second and the third.

Starting pay is $42,870; a teacher with a master's degree, 30 additional college credits, and 16 years in the district gets $92,550.

Contact staff writer Susan Snyder
at 215-854-4693 or