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CCS files labor relations complaint teachers union is "misrepresenting" contract talks

Jennifer Adair
CCS Communications
CCS Board president Jennifer Adair with a copy of the Unfair Labor Practice charge filed Wednesday.

With the start of the school year just weeks away, contract talks between the Columbus Education Association and the Columbus City Schools broke off last week. Wednesday night, school board president Jennifer Adair announced the district has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the state labor relations board, alleging the union is misrepresenting the talks.

Talks between the district and the teachers union began in March and appeared to end June 28th when CEA president John Conglio says district negotiators followed a productive day of talks with what they termed "a final offer" and walked out, refusing to schedule more meetings in August. While neither side has released a detailed list of sticking points, union leaders say they are fighting for smaller class sizes, adequate heating and cooling in buildings, and the incentives that will retain teachers.

Wednesday afternoon school board president Jennifer Adair pushed back on those points. She says the contract offer includes 3% wage increases in the each of the next three school years, plus a $2,000 stipend paid out over the next two years. For the first time, the district will offer paid family leave for new parents. Adair says the district is making an even more significant investment for teachers of high needs students.

"... a continuing education program in which teachers can complete coursework - at board expense - for high needs licensure, certification and/or endorsement areas. Upon completion, teachers may then volunteer to be assigned to high needs positions and receive up to a $10,000 stipend."

Adair says the 'average' class size is 22 students, but admits that's not evenly applied. She says the district will continue to reduce class sizes at the elementary level, and has offered the commitment that no high school teacher will see more than 150 students a day, apart from study periods. And she says the district is spending federal money to resolve HVAC issues that have plagued some buildings. She says the work has been held up by supply issues, but should be completed by mid-September.

While no further talks have been scheduled, the CEA is holding a mass meeting for members Thursday night. Leaders have said they could ask teachers to vote to authorize a strike if there seems no way forward.

The first day of school for teachers is August 22, with students returning August 24th. Adair says the district has a contingency plan if teachers strike, but declined to give details.

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.