Public school teachers throughout Cleveland have announced plans to strike on September 1 unless a new contract can be arranged between the Cleveland Teachers Union and the district.
Three days of negotiations between the two last week, which did not result in an agreement on a new contract, caused the union to issue the 10-day notice of a strike as required by law. Union members had approved the motion to strike during a vote held in May.
Set to officially begin at 6 p.m. on September 1, the Friday before the Labor Day holiday weekend will be the first school day to be affected.
“It is our hope that the CMSD (Cleveland Municipal School District) and the Mayor will commit to using the next two weeks to resolve the contract,” union President David Quolke said in a written statement. “It is essential that we invest in our schools and in our students, and we provide more, not fewer opportunities for students; and it is essential that we settle this contract and begin working to pass the Cleveland school levy.”
District spokeswoman Roseann Canfora announced that the district will do what it can to lessen the impact on the 39,000 students throughout the entirety of the strike. However, she did not offer details as to exactly what this will entail.
Teachers were all in their classrooms for the first day of school this past Monday. Because their old contract with the district expired in July, the terms under that contract will continue until a new contract can be agreed upon.
The improvement plan within the district, known as the Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools, which was passed by the state legislature in 2012, is causing the negotiations to be a bit more complicated. The plan requires teacher pay to be “based on performance” in place of the traditionally used teacher salary schedule. The plan will make Cleveland the only district in the state to not offer raises for years of experience or any degrees earned by teachers.
However, the union and district have been unable to agree upon the full pay plan that is called for by law for the last four years, and it did not make it into the last teacher contract which was agreed upon in 2013. Although the two sides had agreed for the last contract that teachers would receive raises for a number of reasons, the district is currently only offering them to teachers who earn strong ratings on annual evaluations, which heavily depend on student test scores, reports Blake Neff for The Daily Caller.
Meanwhile, other items listed within the contract, such as teachers who work in hard-to-fill jobs or undesired schools, those who complete pre-approved courses and training that directly affect teaching, and those who work to become a mentor or leader, are going ignored by the district.
Data from the Ohio Department of Education shows Cleveland teachers were paid an average salary of $69,133 for the 2014-15 school year.