July 29, 2014

Medina
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Medina teachers make ‘major concessions’ in one-year contract

MEDINA — Medina teachers will not receive a base salary increase this year and will pay more for health care, according to the one-year contract the school board approved Monday night.

Superintendent Randy Stepp said a one-year agreement is rare, but legally the district cannot engage in a contract for more than a year when it will have a negative balance.

Randy Stepp

Randy Stepp

The district projects a deficit of about $4 million in 2014 without new money.

“It is uncommon for a one-year contract. We typically reach three-year agreements; but until a levy passes, this is how we will have to do it,” he said Tuesday. “We won’t be going backwards a year from now. This contract will be a starting point. I think the district and the union hoped for at least a two-year deal, but this is where we’re at for right now.”

The contract, which the Medina City Teachers Association ratified Friday, will expire June 30, 2012.

According to a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, the union agreed to “major concessions,” including an increase in their health care contributions, hikes in other health care costs, no change in their longevity step increase, larger class sizes and class loads and the elimination of the retirement incentive for the 2011-12 school year.

In addition to no increase in base salary, teachers’ monthly health care contributions will rise from $85 for a single plan to $111, and from $215 to $274 for a family plan.

Union President John Leatherman said in the past 12 months, teachers have seen their contributions rise from 7 percent to 17.5 percent — about a $200 increase for a family plan.

In the past, teachers have not paid an in-network deductible, but now must pay $200 for single coverage and $400 for family.

For out-of-network service, costs rose from $100 for single coverage to $300, and from $200 for family to $600, human resources director Jim Shields said.

Under past contracts, teachers received a step increase, or a raise, every year for the first 15 years. This was eliminated in the new contract and teachers also were not given a cost-of-living raise. A retirement bonus, 45 percent of base salary, also was eliminated, Shields said.

Leatherman said it was difficult for the teachers to vote yes, but the Medina community always has been good to them and it is willing to do what it takes to pass a levy. Medina has a 0.5 percent earned income tax issue on the Nov. 8 ballot.

“I guess you could say we’re taking one for the home team,” he said Tuesday.

“In the last two years the union has made concessions of over $1 million and shrunk from 523 to 400 teachers. The new contract agreement was made through the collective bargaining process at the local level, showing that state involvement or legislation, like (Senate Bill 5 — Issue 2 on the Nov. 8 ballot) is not necessary,” Leatherman said in the press release.

“In the classroom, teachers will be doing more with less,” he said in the release. “Financially, the teachers will be doing more with less. The union always has and always will be an integral part of the community.

“Many of our teachers live in this community and all of our teachers touch the lives of children” the union prsident said. “By agreeing to the major cost-savings contract, about $1.5 million, the union took to heart the needs of the community and the current state of Medina and the Medina City Schools.”

In the wake of recent levy defeats, the district has implemented cost-cutting measures, including an approximately 20 percent reduction in staff.

“We sincerely appreciate the strong collaboration between the teachers’ union and the board of education. This agreement is one more significant step in the right direction,” board President Susan Vlcek said in the press release.

“I commend our teachers for reaching an agreement. It is my understanding that the agreement received overwhelming support from the teachers, which shows they are doing what they believe needs to be done for the betterment of our school district, our community and our community’s children,” Stepp said in the press release.

“The teachers understand that times are difficult and they realize the need for their shared contribution,” he continued. “I can’t thank them enough for doing their part. This agreement serves as another example of the quality, caring professionals we employ. These are the people who are truly concerned for our school district and its children.”

Contact Dani Orr at (330) 721-4049 or dorr@medina-gazette.com.