breaking news

Serious crash on I-75 South in Monroe causing major traffic delay

Raises for Ohio teachers appear to be returning

Half of local schools pursuing new teacher contracts

Half of the Miami Valley’s school districts are negotiating new multiyear contracts with their teachers unions this spring, a challenge because two-year state funding levels won’t be known until about June 30, the day many of those existing contracts expire.

Twenty of 40 school districts in the greater Dayton area have teacher contracts expiring this summer. The list includes bigger districts like Dayton, Fairborn and Troy, high-performing suburbs such as Bellbrook and Vandalia-Butler, and smaller districts including Brookville, Bethel and New Lebanon.

So far only Kettering and Centerville City Schools have ratified new contract agreements that take effect for next school year. Bellbrook and Covington have tentative agreements that have not yet been formally approved.

RELATED: Teacher pay varies widely, affects staffing

“There are projections out there on what (state funding) we’re going to get, but we try to be conservative on those, because you never know what’s going to happen between now and June 30 when the budget’s passed,” said Ken Lackey, director of business services for Kettering schools. “We don’t build in the full amount of the projections, and you also take into account what the worst-case scenario might be.”

Raises coming back

The two contracts ratified so far show a return to stronger teacher pay raises after several leaner years during and after the recession. Kettering’s new three-year contract calls for base pay raises of 3 percent the first year, then 2.5 percent and 2.25 percent the last two years. The raises in Centerville’s agreement are two years of 3.5 percent each, followed by a year at 3.375 percent.

Both districts had annual raises of 1.5 to 2 percent in their current contracts, and Kettering teachers had gone through a three-year pay freeze on the back side of the recession.

“I would say pay raises are bouncing back (statewide),” said Van Keating, senior staff attorney for the Ohio School Boards Association. “I’m seeing a lot of 2 and 2.5 percent (raises), but not too many 3s. Now, is that making up for the past freezes? No. It would take a lot more than (2 percent raises) to make that up.”

The local districts that have already reached agreements are ones that don’t have to rely as much on state money. Lackey said just over 20 percent of Kettering’s budget comes from the state, with a much bigger chunk coming from local tax money. Centerville gets less than 15 percent from the state, while many low-wealth communities rely on the state budget for more than half of their funding.

RELATED: Kasich budget would affect school funding

Keating said it’s not uncommon for some of those state-dependent districts to continue contract negotiations into the summer, when they’ll know the next two years’ state funding exactly. He said he’s also seen new contracts this year with contingency provisions, calling for changes or renegotiation if state cuts go beyond a certain level.

Mad River Superintendent Chad Wyen said his district moved to two-year contracts years ago specifically because the state budget is done on a two-year cycle. Mad River is one of many districts negotiating simultaneously with their teachers (represented by the Ohio Education Association), as well as their secretaries, aides, bus drivers and other non-teachers, often referred to as “classified” employees. More than 15 local districts have classified staff contracts expiring this summer.

Tipp City was the last local school district without union-represented teachers, until they organized in 2015. In several local districts, including Piqua, Centerville and Valley View, the classified staff is not unionized.

Better communication

Centerville teachers union president Brian Cayot said there are always tweaks in new contracts, from health insurance premiums and work schedules, to new state laws and rules. This year, he pointed to langauge on teacher mentoring programs, school counselor evaluations and the switch from a minimum number of school days to a set number of hours of instruction.

But both Kettering and Centerville said bargaining went relatively smoothly this year on their teacher contracts.

“We try to work collaboratively throughout the contract period, so when there are big changes, we’re not looking at them for the first time at the negotiating table, because that leads to frustration on both sides,” Cayot said. “Our negotiations committee meets monthly to talk about what’s going on in district, things coming out of Columbus that are impacting us.”

RELATED: Dayton schools postpones planned layoffs

Keating said one clear trend is that contract negotiations are going faster than they did years ago, when very few contracts were ratified before the end of the school year. He credited the Interest-Based Bargaining system for the improvement.

“That has really caught on,” Keating said. “It relies a heck of a lot less on writing proposals, then coming in and arguing. It’s more of a joint-problem solving approach.”

Lackey said that model helped Kettering’s groups come to agreement quickly. Milton-Union Superintendent Brad Ritchey said his district recently did IBB training and have exchanged “interest statements” heading into the first negotiation date.

Not all negotiations go smoothly though. The classified staff in both Jefferson Twp. and Northmont schools are working under the terms of expired contracts because they didn’t reach new agreements in 2016. Northmont spokeswoman Jenny Wood said the district expects negotiations to resume later this year.

Cayot said getting contracts done allows everyone to focus on education.

“I think it’s a relief for everybody involved, both administration and teachers, to know that we have a contract for the next three years, and it should be good working terms,” he said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Crash on southbound I-75 in Monroe snarls traffic 
Crash on southbound I-75 in Monroe snarls traffic 

A crash on southbound I-75 in Monroe has slowed traffic. The crash, involving a semi-tractor trailer and a SUV, was reported after 7 p.m. about a mile south of Ohio 63. Initial reports indicate several lanes are closed. Injuries have been reported, but the extent of injuries is unknown at this time. This story will be updated as additional information...
3-car crash reported on northbound I-675

Officials said a car merging onto northbound I-675 struck another car. One person was taken to a local hospital, but no serious injuries were reported. Crews are responding to a reported 3-vehicle crash on northbound I-675 in Washington Twp. The crash was reported around 6:50 p.m. at Mile Marker 3, just north of Ohio 725. Injuries have been reported...
This Fairfield High School senior saw a need at her school and filled it. Find out why, and how.
This Fairfield High School senior saw a need at her school and filled it. Find out why, and how.

The mission of LoveWorks is to inspire others to pay kindness forward and to celebrate those within the community who do just that. Fairfield High School senior Madi Dunn is an inspiration in paying kindness forward to her fellow students, said Angie Kenworthy, the organization’s committee chair. So she wanted to honor Dunn on Valentine&rsquo...
5 employers will be hiring at one event in Fairfield this week
5 employers will be hiring at one event in Fairfield this week

For job seekers looking to find multiple employment options in one place, OhioMeansJobs-Butler County will feature five hiring events in one day on Wednesday at its offices at 4631 Dixie Highway in Fairfield. Melissa O’Brien, the business services manager for the business and employment resource center, told this media outlet that having numerous...
Firefighters rescue 12 pets from burning house in Franklin
Firefighters rescue 12 pets from burning house in Franklin

Twelve pets, including 11 dogs and 1 bird, were rescued from a house on fire. Fire crews said when they arrived on scene of the fire in the 900 block of Turner Lane Saturday afternoon, heavy smoke and flames were showing. All the residents were able to make it out safely, but they advised of the 12 pets trapped in the house.  Crews initially said...
More Stories