- Columbus City Schools
Columbus Board of Education Files Unfair Labor Practice Charge with State Employment Relations Board in Response to Misinformation Communicated by CEA
August 3, 2022 -- The following statements were made at tonight’s Columbus City Schools Board of Education media briefing regarding negotiations with the Columbus Education Association.
Jennifer Adair, Board of Education President:
As I stated at last night’s school board meeting, the Board remains focused on welcoming our students and teachers back to school on August 24. This is why we began negotiations with the Columbus Education Association (CEA) in March and held 19 meetings – to ensure we had time to complete the negotiations process well before the start of school.
Unfortunately, today we had to file an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) in response to misinformation communicated by CEA. We will make the filing available to you, but I want to review a few of the key points. We don’t take this action lightly. We value our teachers and all of our staff.
The first piece of misinformation is CEA’s statement that the Board’s “final offer” does not include “smaller class sizes, even though the class size numbers show it would not be an additional cost.” This is false.
As we have explained to SERB in our filing, the Board’s final offer DOES include smaller class sizes. The Board proposed to phase continue a phase in of reduced class size up to the Fifth grade. For our high school teachers, we have memorialized the agreement that they will instruct no more than 150 students per day, not including study halls.
The second misconception, CEA stated that the Board’s “final offer” does not include “functional heating and air-conditioning in classrooms, even though the board has the money to provide it without cost to the community.” This is extremely misleading.
Well before contract negotiations began, the board approved funding from the federal COVID dollars to upgrade the HVAC in the remaining 16 district school buildings that had not yet been upgraded. The Board prioritized these federal dollars for HVAC work. This process is ongoing. And, the Board’s final offer also addresses our commitment to ensure that our buildings have power, heat, air conditioning, and water to create a learning environment that promotes the well-being of students and teachers.
The last series of misconceptions that we explained in our filing are about CEA’s statement that the Board’s final offer does not include “working conditions that recruit and retain the best educators for our students.” This is false.
The Board’s final offer prioritizes the ability to recruit and retain the best educators, including the following:
- Let’s talk about wages: Salary increases that exceed the average teacher increases across central Ohio and the state. Specifically, the Board’s final offer includes a wage increase of 3% for 2022-2023, 3% for 2023-2024, and 3% for 2024-2025.
- Let’s talk about stipends: A stipend for the sole purpose of “retention and recruitment.” The bonus is a total of $2,000 paid out over four payments during the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years.
- Paid family leave: New paid family leave, above and beyond employees’ sick leave, for the birth, adoption or foster placement for purposes of adoption of a child. This leave will be available for the birth or adoptive/foster parent and for the non-birth parent.
- Our buildings: A commitment that new and renovated elementary buildings will be designed with rooms for art and music classes.
- Special education: More flexibility and time for special education lead teachers to write IEPs, and more time for special education lead teachers and related service providers to attend IEP meetings and complete IEP paperwork.
- Meeting our needs to serve our students: A continuing education program in which teachers can complete coursework at Board expenses for high needs licensure, certification and/or endorsement areas. Upon completion, teachers may then volunteer to be assigned to high needs positions and will receive up to $10,000 in stipends.
These are just a few of several examples of misinformation contained in the unfair labor practice charge. It is disappointing that he CEA is not fully transparent with its own members and the public, and the Board strongly felt we needed to address the misinformation and that is why we filed a charge with the State Employment Relations Board.
Carol Beckerle, Board of Education Member:
As a former CCS teacher, I believe I have some sense of how our teachers feel. I too felt frustrated, which is why I ran for this position. I also know how hard it will be to set aside those frustrations – and carefully consider the board’s final offer.
I want to assure our community that we ran through scenarios, pressed our financial team, and came up with the contract language, the vast majority of which has already been agreed upon, and a compensation package that recognizes our teachers are integral to the success of our students.
I would like to highlight that our final offer
- Exceeds the average of state and local teaching salary increases,
- Includes new and innovative leave benefits that no other school district in Central Ohio offers, and
- Provides creative opportunities for our teachers to grow professionally in their career with the district.
I also want to stress that throughout this entire negotiation, our positions were grounded in our Goals and Guardrails and Portrait of a Graduate – demonstrating our commitment to changing culture and improving student outcomes.
I also want to address some misinformation that suggests the district is
“top-heavy” when it comes to administrators. This idea that we are top-heavy is not only inaccurate when looking at administrator/student ratios across the state, but it’s not the right metric. The correct metric is student outcomes. We have begun monitoring these outcomes vigorously and continually. If the needle isn’t moving on student outcomes, there will be more adjustments.
As a board member, I now understand the complexities of the budget process. This offer demonstrates our appreciation for and recognition of their commitment to our students, families, and school district. I firmly believe that our final offer is a good and fair offer. It is the board’s hope that at tomorrow night’s meeting, the teachers will review the offer and make their own decisions.
Christina Vera, Board of Education Member:
I am here tonight in hopes to remind everyone our focus should be on our students – every student. On behalf of our other school board members, I want to be clear that all our efforts have been directed at having every student in the classroom on August 24th with their friends, teachers and staff members.
As a parent of children attending our schools, I know our students are watching how we as adults treat each other and how we care for them.
As I stated at last night’s school board meeting, student outcomes won’t change until adult behavior changes. We have been negotiating with the CEA in good faith and have provided a fair and respectful contract.
I want our students to know that we are not fighting against each other. I want our students and families to know that the Board is not fighting against our teachers.
We are all in this together – and we are all fighting for our students each and every day.
We all want what is best for our students, and this Board is dedicated to serving our students and school community, and taking steps to provide a great learning environment for our students, our teachers and all of our staff.
Our students are watching our behavior, and I want them to see us working together for their benefit. We love our students, and we know our teachers do, too.
We are thankful for our teachers and the devotion they have to our schools and our students. The Board trusts that our CEA leadership will provide the contract to our teachers when they meet tomorrow evening, and that teachers will carefully read and consider our final offer. This is how we can ensure together that our students are back in the classroom with their teachers when the school doors open on August 24th.