By Linda Dillman
In 2014, contract negotiations between the Reynoldsburg Education Association and the Reynoldsburg Board of Education were marked by a nearly two-week long strike that ended in mediation.
In 2017, closed-door deliberations between the two parties took only four days, ending with a mid-July ratification of the three-year contract by the teacher’s union and 4-1 approval of the agreement by the school board during an Aug. 4 special meeting. Board member Elaine Tornero was the lone dissenting vote.
“After a week of negotiations with the REA, I’d like to recognize that the board of education and the REA reached a contract,” said board member Rob Truex on July 18. “I’m very pleased with the teams involved. We didn’t always agree on everything—that’s to be expected—but we were able to take steps in each other’s direction and come together in the end.”
Effective Aug. 1, the base salary for a teacher with no previous experience is now $41,696, up 2.5 percent. In 2018, the base salary goes up by 2.25 percent to $42,634 and then goes up another 2 percent in 2019 to $43,487. In 2017, bargaining unit members who experienced a step freeze in 2013-14 will recover one step on the salary schedule.
Teachers whose students perform significantly above expectations are still eligible for a performance bonus of up to $4,000. Criteria for awarding performance bonuses will now be developed by the administration in collaboration with the teacher’s union. An evaluation-based program was removed from the contract.
Unused personal leave days (three per year) will be transferred into sick leave. Previously, one unused personal day could be carried over to the following school year.
Sexual orientation and gender identification were added to the list of a teacher’s protected rights regarding discrimination, which also includes race, color, creed, national origin, age, sex, religion, ancestry, handicap or physical disability.
Regarding, Reduction in Force (RIF), declining student enrollment, program changes, revisions or reductions, course offering changes and budgetary restraints could impact employee numbers. Seniority, areas of certification, licensure, contract status and now formal evaluation are the criteria used to determine RIF status.
Any force reduction will be first handled by the board through normal attrition, retirement and voluntary resignations. Then, first-year limited contract teachers will be reduced by certification/license, competency, or lowest seniority. The same criteria will be employed for teachers in two other tiers of service.
Regarding class size, in grades kindergarten through fourth, the guideline number of students is 25. Fifth through eighth grade is 30 students and for high schoolers, the guideline is either 35 or a formula involving caseloads and instruction classes.
If the number of students in a class or on a caseload exceeds guidelines, a teacher may request a meeting to discuss alternatives, including schedule adjustments, adding paraprofessionals, or additional compensation of $5 per student per day.
Teachers who cover classes at the same time they are teaching their own classes, forego their planning time to cover a class or assume responsibility for students placed in their room with their own class(es) will be paid $21.22 per hour when covering an unassigned class.
“Thank you to both teams for being willing to listen and keep the conversation going,” said board member Neal Whitman, “even in the times when it was difficult to agree.”