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South-Western teachers want "fair and equitable" contract
South-Western Education Association (SWEA) members say they have made many sacrifices and all they want in return is a “fair and equitable contract.”
Union members packed the South-Western City Schools District Office for the Feb. 14 board of education meeting.
Fred Frank has been a music educator in the district for 25 years. He told the board the average teacher volunteers over 13 hours of their time per week and pays $385 out of pocket per year.
“Why do we do this?” asked Frank, “We are teachers.”
Frank said the teachers work hard to give the students a quality education and they deserve a fair contract from the board.
Annie Smith has been a teacher in the district for five years.
“I did not become a teacher for the money, nor did I expect a slap in the face,” said Smith.
Smith, a Westland High School graduate, said she never imagined teaching would be a profession that would be berated by the community and disrespected by district leaders.
SWEA president Rolla Beach said the last bargaining session with the board was Dec. 20 and no future sessions are planned at this time.
“We are ready to get back to the bargaining table,” said Beach.
Beach would not comment on the terms of the contract, but has said union members do not feel appreciated.
The board did not comment on the negotiations, but resident Terry Jones did.
Jones believes union members should not be making demands at a time when the economy continues to struggle.
“It is no longer business as usual in this country,” said Jones. “I appreciate good teachers, but there is not enough money to support union entitlements.”
Treasurer Hugh Garside has predicted at least a 10 percent decrease in state funding for the next few years. If 10 percent is cut from the state’s education budget, South-Western will lose approximately $9 million each year.
Jill Brandt is a district employee, resident and parent. She has been an employee in the district for 31 years.
“As a resident, I want to use my tax money to keep students educated,” said Brandt.
The last contract expired on June 30. SWEA represents approximately 1,430 licensed educators, including teachers and guidance counselors. Since November, union members have been working to the rule, which means no extra time on the clock.
A contract with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) has also yet to be reached. OAPSE represents the classified staff in the district.
|On February 20, 2011 Linda said:
The taxpayers have never said the teachers weren't hard workers and "deserved" more money and benefits. The fact remains we are totally tapped out financially. Thank you.
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