Thursday, September 21, 2000

Talawanda teachers make deal

Raises will depend on levy passage

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        OXFORD — Teachers in the Talawanda Schools will get an immediate pay raise of up to 7.5 percent if the operating levy is approved Nov. 7, under a one-year contract extension recommended by a fact finder and approved by the board of education this week.

        Teachers took no position on the fact-finding report, which means it is automatically accepted, said Diana Herbe, a labor relations consultant with the Ohio Education Association who has been working with teachers.

        “I think teachers — by choosing not to vote — are sending a message,” Ms. Herbe said Wednesday. “Neither choice (voting for or against the report) was acceptable to them so they chose not to vote.”

        The report calls for a salary schedule adopted by the board a year ago to be put into place, plus an extra 3 percent to cover inflation, said Talawanda Treasurer James Rowan. Depending on where teachers fall on the salary schedule, it means up to a 7.5 percent raise retroactive to Sept. 1, if a 6.5-mill operating levy is approved. Two other money issues have been turned down in the last 12 months.

        The raise would move teachers into the average salary range for Butler County. Beginning teachers in the Talawanda Schools with a bachelor's degree and no experience earn $23,692 annually, the lowest in the county.

        Should voters reject the levy the report calls for negotiations to reopen on wages and on specific issues including two planning periods a day, class size, number of students a teacher sees during the day, and the district's use of aides for playground monitoring, cafeteria supervision and study halls.

        “Those issues were issues we went on strike for 12 years ago,” said Joan Parks, president of the Talawanda Education Association.

        Just having aides do those tasks instead of teachers costs the district about $375,000 annually, Mr. Rowan said.

        “We were very pleased with the report,” Mr. Rowan said. “The fact finder recognized our financial situation ... Until our community gives us the go-ahead in November, we're not in a position to give raises.”

        The Edgewood Board of Education this week also approved a fact-finder's report that calls for a one-year contract extension for its teachers, said board President John Snyder. Teachers will get details of the report before voting on it today.

        Until teachers see the report Mr. Snyder declined to release any details.

        Teachers in Talawanda and Edgewood began the school year under expired master contracts after both teachers groups declared impasse earlier this summer. Mediation in both districts was attempted and failed, Ms. Herbe said.


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