MEDINA — Medina Schools teachers ratified a tentative agreement with the district, union officials said Wednesday afternoon.
Teachers overwhelmingly approved the contract by a vote of 303 to 24.
About 80 teachers did not cast a written ballot.
The agreement, reached between the school board and the Medina City Teachers Association, calls for no increase in pay for the district’s approximately 400 teachers, except for “step increases” for time in service and additional college coursework.
It also calls for an increase in the class load at the high school and a hike in the cost to employees for health insurance.
Teachers could be required to teach six periods instead of five, a move that could increase course offerings from 450 to more than 500, according to the union.
The new pact runs through June 30, 2014. Teachers had been working under an expired contract since June 2012.
Earlier this week, union President John Leatherman predicted the pact would be approved despite the public outcry over a new contract for Superintendent Randy Stepp that provided an $83,000 bonus, aimed at keeping him from taking another job.
At a heated public forum Friday, attended by about 400 parents, students and residents, Stepp said he will give back the bonus through payroll deductions.
In announcing the outcome of the vote, Leatherman said teachers remain dissatisfied with the board’s answers on how the money will be repaid.
“I think the teachers had 83,000 reasons to not vote yes for the tentative agreement, but it comes down to the community and kids, and that’s why they got into teaching,” he said. “Regardless of the internal problems we’re having, voting yes was the best.”
The cash-strapped district has a 5.9-mill levy on the May 7 primary ballot.
The union also has charged the board withheld information about the superintendent’s new contract and the payment of $244,037 since 2010 to cover the cost of Stepp’s graduate education. Stepp has a doctorate and master’s degree from Ashland University and a master’s in business administration from Case Western Reserve University.
Pat O’Brien, who teachers special-needs students at the high school and is boys’ head lacrosse coach, said the publicity surrounding Stepp’s contract “made stronger our resolve to do what we thought was the right thing for the district.”
“I’m very proud of that,” he said. “I’m very proud that we did that.”
Board member Susan Vlcek thanked the teachers for ratifying the contract.
“I’m so grateful that we are on a good path, and that they have supported this contract,” she said. “It shows the community what our teachers do for this community every day, and we appreciate every bit of it.”
Vlcek said the board has not yet had a chance to discuss details of how Stepp’s bonus will be repaid.
Stepp also said he was glad to hear teachers approved their contract.
“I think their approval supports our shared goal, which is to have a fair contract for both the community, the board and the teachers’ union, as well as achieving our goal of working together to educate students,” he said.
Stepp said he expects the board to approve the teachers’ contract in the next couple days during a special meeting.
The board cannot hold a regular meeting until a new member is appointed to replace. Robert Wilder, who resigned in February.
Applications for Wilder’s seat are due today at the district office, 140 W. Washington St.
Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.