October 30, 2014

Medina
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School board member releases details of tentative pact

MEDINA — Medina teachers weren’t supposed to learn the specifics of a tentative agreement on a wage contract until today.

But school board member Bill Grenfell revealed some details of the pact Wednesday in an emailed response to a community member’s protests about Superintendent Randy Stepp’s new contract.

Bill Grenfell

John Leatherman, president of the Medina City Teachers Association, said Grenfell’s email violated state labor law, which bars publicizing the provision of tentative agreements without the consent of both sides.

“It’s not in good-faith bargaining to share details of negotiations with the public,” he said.

Leatherman said union members would receive copies of the tentative agreement before tonight’s meeting but would not vote on it until next week.

Teachers have been working under their old contract since June 2012.

The teachers association, which represents the district’s approximately 400 teachers, is protesting Stepp’s new five-year pact, which provides annual compensation of at least $186,000 in wages, bonus, allowance and other fringe benefits, along with a signing bonus of $83,000 designed to ensure Stepp doesn’t take another job.

The controversy over the new contract has sparked opposition to the school district’s 5.9-mill levy on the May ballot — including a Facebook page called “Medina City Schools Outrage.”

Union officials have called Stepp’s contract “incredibly ill-timed,” saying it hurts the chances of the membership approving the tentative wage pact for the teachers, as well as passage of the levy.

The board approved Stepp’s contract Jan. 7. But union officials have said they didn’t know about it until two weeks ago because the item was listed on the agenda as an amendment to the superintendent’s existing contract, which runs through July 2014.

In the email defending Stepp’s contract, Grenfell confirmed a report in The Gazette on Tuesday that the proposed two-year contract calls for no increases in teacher pay, except for longevity “step” increases.

But Grenfell also provided new details of the tentative agreement:

• High school teachers would be required to teach six periods instead of five.

• Teachers’ contributions for health care would increase from 17.5 percent to 20 percent at the end of the second year of the contract.

Grenfell said Stepp has paid 20 percent of his health care premiums for the past four years and works without an assistant superintendent.

“I defend both of these contracts and both parties,” Grenfell wrote. “It takes highly-qualified employees to run and manage a successful school system and BOE policy reflects that reality. Our teachers, staff and administrators are valued and paid according to their education experience and contribution to the organizational goals.”

Pat O’Brien, 56, who has been a teacher at Medina High School for 30 years, said teachers have made concessions in their last two contracts, and expected that to happen again. O’Brien attended Wednesday night’s board meeting.

“Right now, it’s more about the kids and the fiscal responsibility and the programming,” he said.

He said he didn’t have an opinion on Stepp’s new contract, except that he agreed with Leatherman, who said the contract approval was “ill-timed,” with the vote on the new teacher contract as well as the levy coming up.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.

Click here for the full text of Bill Grenfell’s e-mail: http://bit.ly/WSwdev