They have been working without a contract and they are fed up with it.
Members of the South-Western Education Association (SWEA) held a rally on Nov. 12 outside the South-Western City Schools district office just prior to the regular board of education meeting.
“This rally is a demonstration of their unity, their deepening concern and their strong support of the SWEA bargaining team,” said Rolla Beach, who has been president of SWEA for the past 12 years.
Contract negotiations between SWEA and the district began in late April. Their contracts expired on June 30. After further negotiations on Aug. 14, both parties agreed to bring in a federal mediator. That mediator lead a discussion in late September then determined that no further progress could be made.
“At this point in time, there are no dates scheduled for another bargaining session,” said Beach.
According to the SWEA president, there has not been any talk of a strike or a walkout at this time.
“We have not presented that question to the membership,” Beach commented.
He added that the members of SWEA work hard every day to care for and educate their students and are committed professionals who deserve to be treated professionally with a fair and equitable contract.
Neither Beach or the board would comment on the terms of the contract. The previous contract was for two-years and gave employees a 1 percent wage increase in the first year and a 2 percent increase in the second year. The board and SWEA agreed to extend the expired contract until they agreed on a new one.
The SWEA represents professional educators including teachers, guidance counselors, school psychologists, tutors, school nurses, and other certified employees of the district. It has over 1400 members.
During the board meeting, board members said they would discuss the contracts in an executive session.
Also at the meeting
•Board member Cathy Johnson has been appointed to the Ohio School Boards Association Board of Trustees for the calendar year of 2008.
The OSBA states that the board of trustees shall include one representative from each of the six largest districts in Ohio.
Jim Lester is the current representative.
•The Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) window has changed for the summer of 2008.
According to Joyce Malainy, the executive director of secondary education, the make-up portions will be during the week of June 23. The OGT intervention, which prepares the students for what is on the test, will be held on June 9 through 20 for additional learning time in order to graduate. Summer school begins on June 16.
(Southwest Editor Andrea Cordle contributed to this article.)