SWCS signs contract with some public employees

The South-Western City School District Board of Education has voted to approve employee contracts, but it is not with the South-Western Education Association (SWEA).

During a special meeting held Dec. 3, the board reached an agreement with both support staff and administrators. They signed a collective bargaining agreement with Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE/AFSCME) Local 211 and the South-Western Administration Association (SWAA) for the next two years.

According to the district, the original three-year OAPSE agreement was entered into from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2009 with a reopener in 2007 for the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 contract years on the topics of salary, insurance and retirement incentives. The board approved that the final two years of that three-year contract will now include a 2.5 percent salary increase for contract year 2007-2008 and a 2 percent salary increase for 2008-2009. OAPSE members approved the new contract on Dec. 1.

On Nov. 27, SWAA approved a new two-year contract, which includes a 2.5 percent salary increase in the first year and a 2 percent raise in the second contract year. This contract runs from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2009.

"Our support staff and administrators have certainly recognized the financial challenges facing not only SWCS, but public schools across the state," said Board President Jim Lester. "At a time when school funding remains unstable and the economy continues to decline, the board is pleased both SWAA and OAPSE have accepted what we believe is a very fair and equitable agreement."

Superintendent Dr. R. Kirk Hamilton added, "Our support staff members and administrators do a great job and throughout negotiations have shown they are sensitive to the financial constraints of our current budget."

The board of education and SWEA have still not reached an agreement on contracts. They started the bargaining process in April. In late September, a federal mediator stated that no further progress could be made at that time. Their contract expired on June 30. On Nov. 19, SWEA adopted a resolution to authorize its bargaining team to issue a notice of intent to strike should it be deemed necessary.

Neither side will comment on the terms of the proposed contract, nor will they disclose if future negotiations have been discussed. Federal mediators would have to authorize the bargaining session. SWEA is the certified bargaining agent for the district’s largest group of employees including teachers, tutors and guidance counselors. It has over 1,400 members.

OAPSE/AFSCME Local 211 is the third largest public school employee union in the state. It represents more than 900 support staff members. SWAA represents approximately 90 district administrators.

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