November 26, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
38°F

Concession talks empty

MEDINA — Hopes to bring back any laid-off teachers faded Monday after concession talks came up empty between representatives of Medina City Schools and the teachers union.

Jo Ann Shire, president of the Medina City Teachers Association, said the administration “only wanted concessions” and “they were not going to bargain.”

She said the three-year contract, which ends this year, will “remain in full force and effect.”

The school district’s administration, however, said the union arrived with unexpected demands and its proposed concessions would not lead to significant savings.

The school district, after the union released its statement, said in its own statement that: “The district has consistently expressed the need for concessions and was not in a position to offer any changes to the negotiated contract. The district has always stated that any monetary concessions would be used to bring back previously laid-off staff which would help to reinstate programs and services that will be reduced.”

In a statement, Shire said the union offered to pay 50 percent more for monthly health care insurance premiums, at a savings of about $150,000 for the district. The union also offered to reduce supplemental pay to help defray the cost of pay-to-participate fees, which would have saved $125,000.

Another offer was to freeze teachers’ base salary for the 2011-12 school year, which the union said would have saved potentially $1 million.

“The board wanted more,” Shire said in a statement. “We are saddened today by the Board’s actions because we know our community has been impacted by the poor economy. Many of our members live in the community and want to help.”

The district maintained the union’s concessions were not enough to bring back the 30 teaching positions the administration wanted to save.

“It is estimated that the total MCTA proposed savings to the district in the 2010-2011 school year would be between $200,000-$300,000. This would allow the district to re-instate approximately 6 positions in 2010-2011,” the district’s statement said.

“When you are in the position that the district is in, you can’t negotiate,” Superintendent Randy Stepp said Monday.

Earlier this year, Stepp recommended the teachers take concessions similar to those made by administrative staff that went into effect Jan. 1. Administrators voluntarily froze their pay and agreed to cover 15 percent of their health care costs for the remainder of this school year and next.

The district said if the union agreed to similar concessions, it “would be able to re-instate approximately 30 positions.”

“We brought a ton of things to the table and some had nothing to do with money,” Shire said Monday, although she would not comment on any nonmonetary concessions the union offered.

“We hope the Board will act expediently to place a levy on the November ballot,” Shire said in the statement.

The union voted in April to open up the contract to discuss potential concessions.

In February, the school district announced it would cut 93.5 certified positions, which include teachers and guidance counselors, for the 2010-11 school year. At a May 17 meeting, the board formalized those cuts and the layoffs of about 30 support staff.

The cuts were announced after voters defeated an 11.7-mill incremental levy in November and the district projected a
$9.5 million deficit next school year. The levy would have generated $13.8 million a year once fully phased in over three years.

In a series of community input meetings hosted by the school district, residents have indicated that if the teachers union made concessions, they would be more likely to vote for a levy.

Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at (330) 721-4050 or kbushinski@medina-gazette.com.