Members of the Columbus Education Association voted "overwhelmingly" Sunday to accept a contract offer from the Columbus City Schools, with pay increases, the promise of smaller class sizes, and better disciplinary programs for troubled students.
Alison Holm reports.
Over 18-hundred teachers, about half of those represented by the union, turned out for the vote on the Ohio State Fairgrounds Sunday. Union president John Coniglio says 73% of the teachers approved the contract terms, averting a strike and ending the showdown with the district that began this spring and continued through the start of the school year this last. The Columbus Board of Education has called a special meeting this morning to vote on the deal, and is expected to approve.
Some of the provisions in the three-year contract include a 3% pay raise for each year, and parental leave for the non-birth parent - a first in the district.
Starting next year with Kindergarten, the district will shrinking classroom sizes at 27, adding an additional grade each year of the contract. There will also be a class load limit for elementary unified arts.
Student discipline was another important issue for teachers, and the contract includes an in-school suspension room for any school that has 7 through 12th grades, instead of out of school suspensions, starting next school year. To help students who are struggling, the district will also hire 15 'Social/Emotional Learning Practitioners, as in-house experts and to provide training.
Part of the "conceptual agreement" worked out with the school district earlier this month included adding student support professionals, and contract approved by the teachers includes a committment to hire an additional 12 school nurses, 15 social workers, 10 ELL teachers and 8 pre-K teachers/Intervention specialists for the next school year.
High School Counselors and Library Media Specialists will be offered addtional non-student time for planning and other purposes, and there will a minimum of 40 hours of professional development "embedded" within the regular schedule.
Union officials say the district rejected all their proposals on tax abatements. By state law, the district has to sign off on tax abatements offered by the city that are over a certain percentage or duration. The CEA has charged the district is too quick to do so, depriving the district of much needed tax money.
Superintendent Talisa Dixon is recommending the board approve the contract. The board is meeting Monday morning to take that vote.