June 29, 2016

Partly cloudy

Pay, health premiums hiked in Medina teachers new three-year contract

Medina city teachers will get 2 percent raises for each of the next three years under a contract approved by the school board Monday night.

The three-year pact takes effect July 1, 2014, and also calls for increasing the teachers’ share of the health insurance premiums from 17.5 to 20 percent.

The Medina City Teachers Association, which represents the district’s about 400 teachers, approved the contract earlier Monday.

“This contract balances the financial concerns of the community while continuing to provide and add outstanding programs,” board President Tom Cahalan said. “We have met the needs of the community, the district and our teachers.”

The board approved the contract by a 4-1 vote. Board member Tracy Givelekian said she couldn’t support the contract because of promises she made while campaigning for the district’s 5.9 mill emergency levy, which passed in November.

“I reassured folks that money from the levy would be bringing back programs and buses,” she said.

Givelekian said she struggled on deciding how to vote on the contract, and said she valued the hard work of teachers. She said her vote is based on the financial struggles of the district, and not intended as a slight against teachers.

Medina Teachers Association President John Leatherman said he was pleased with how the bargaining process was handled.

“The process with the administration was very collaborative — with many concerns from both sides being met,” Leatherman said.

“I thought we went in with a reasonable number and a reasonable request.”

The district opted to use a bargaining model called critical-issues modeling, and asked a federal mediator to step in from the beginning to facilitate the process.

The mediator came at no cost to the district and allowed both district administrators and union representatives to address only the most important issues while sitting at the table together.

Leatherman said he was surprised Givelekian voted against the contract. He said the teachers gave back one percent of their pay in 2010 and haven’t had a raise in about five years.

Leatherman said many teachers won’t see their paycheck go up as much as the raises because of the increase in health insurance premiums and the state-mandated 1 percent increase to their State Teachers Retirement System.

Teachers also are eligible for “step increases,” based on their years of service.

Medina Treasurer David Chambers said the district’s five-year forecast included the raises for teachers but did not have the total cost of the raises.

“We do know a 2 percent raise will still allow the district to move forward without any major impact on the five-year forecast,” he said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.