By Dedra Cordle
Hundreds of classified employees have secured a new contract with the South-Western City Schools District.
On April 25, the board of education announced at its regular meeting that they have reached a new collective bargaining agreement with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) Local 211.
According to the district, there are approximately 950 classified support personnel who hold membership with OAPSE. Their positions range from school office employees to mechanics, from cooks and interpreters, and from aides to bus drivers.
The board and the union representing the employees have been negotiating a new contract for months; several classified employees said at a rally prior to the last board of education meeting at least one offer had been rejected as they did not feel their value was being accurately represented within the process.
Board president Cathy Johnson said the board believes the new collective bargaining agreement is a reflection of their value to the district.
“OAPSE staff members play a vital role in our ability to transport, feed, maintain facilities, attend to medical needs, and support students,” she said. “The competitive agreement adopted on tonight’s agenda represents the district’s sincere acknowledgement and deep appreciation for these efforts. With an eye on the future, we are thankful for the opportunity to continue to partner together to benefit our community’s most precious asset in our students for many years to come.”
Under the terms of the contract which will be in effect through June 30, 2025, the classified employees will receive a 2.75 percent cost of living increase in the contract years of 2022-23 and 2023-2024 and a 3.23 percent cost of living increase in 2024-25.
The contract also stipulates the district will cover 70 percent of the cost of insurance premiums for individuals choosing the family insurance plan. There will be no change for individuals choosing a single plan.
The board also approved the non-OAPSE classified salary schedule and the Central Office Confidential salary schedule increase. They will be given a 2.75 percent cost of living increase in the years 2022-23 and 2023-24 and a 3.25 percent cost of living increase in 2024-25. Employees under these classifications include school monitors, recreation center staff and officials within the treasurer’s office and the payroll department.
Treasurer Hugh Garside said while the annual cost of living increase for the OAPSE and non-OAPSE employees was higher than projected in the five-year financial forecast, he continues to see the district being fiscally solvent throughout the three-year term of the contract.
“When a school district enters into a contract agreement, by law they have to show that they can afford to do so throughout the term of the contract,” he said.