The third meeting between striking Strongsville, Ohio teachers and the school board wasn’t the charm, and yesterday’s fourth meeting didn’t lead to any resolution either. After meeting for about 12 hours with federal mediators on Tuesday, the teachers strike, which began March 4, will continue after both sides failed to come to an agreement. Though […]
The third meeting between striking Strongsville, Ohio teachers and the school board wasn’t the charm, and yesterday’s fourth meeting didn’t lead to any resolution either.
After meeting for about 12 hours with federal mediators on Tuesday, the teachers strike, which began March 4, will continue after both sides failed to come to an agreement. Though the strike is based on multiple issues, the largest part of the disagreement is in regard to pay raises for the teachers.
Tracy Linscott, president of the Strongsville Education Association, said she could not discuss specifics of the meeting because both sides agreed beforehand there would be some confidentiality and that the conversations would stay in the room.
“It didn’t accomplish anything,” she said. “We are in the same spot we were in before the strike.”
Teachers in the district say that their salary scale has not increased since the 2007-2008 school year and their contributions toward health care coverage have largely increased, with family coverage going from $40 a month to $150 a month starting in 2011.
While the salary scale has remained stagnant, teachers received annual raises until the 2011-2012 school year, based on experience and any additional education they received. According to the Ohio Department of Education, the average salary in the Strongsville district in the 2011-2012 school year was $54,540.
Police and security guards were hired from Huffmaster Inc., which is a firm often used by school districts to maintain order during strikes. The police are patrolling school grounds, keeping teachers on sidewalks and out of driveways, and are ticketing teachers cars that are parked on side streets.
The teacher’s union submitted a new offer to the school board yesterday, which was for $300,000 less than their initial proposal. But Frazee said the proposal was still more than the district budget could afford. Since day one, Frazee has maintained that the district’s contract offers reflect the “economic realities” of the district which has seen little revenue increase in recent years.
“If we granted anything that increases our expenses, we’d be mandated to cut more programs, cut more personnel and reduce building budgets to bare minimums and hope that nothing breaks,” said Superintendent John Krupinski.
Increasing the teachers salary to an amount they feel they deserve would on average cost homeowners in the district $30 a year more. Total, the increased salaries would cost the district $1.5 million more, but district officials say the teachers proposal would create a $2 million budget deficit.
Tad Colbeck, an Ohio Education Association representative working with the striking teachers, said “it is unfair to characterize teacher raises in terms of millage it would cost taxpayers,” adding that districts have to raise taxes to cover all rising costs and Strongsville would need a new tax for day-to-day operations soon, even if teachers accepted the district’s offer of no raises at all.
District Treasurer Debbie Herrmann reported that the district paid substitutes $150,000 last week, which is much less than the some $460,000 earn in a week on security guards and a firm that helped hire substitute teachers. Herrmann said the district did not have more recent totals, nor recent billings from the lawyer handling negotiations with the teachers.