An 8-week strike that paralyzed an Ohio school district is over after the school board unanimously approved a new teacher contract, The Ohio Plain Dealer reports. The school board met and all 5 members voted to approve the contract, with the news being made public a mere three minutes after the meeting was called to order.
David Frazee, the school board president, said that replacement teachers who have been subbing in for the strikers will be given a chance to take leave of the students formally, though he wasn't clear on the details. The new contract will be made public on the district website.
The unanimous approval of the board comes after an "overwhelming" majority of the district's 385 union members voted to ratify it this weekend. According Tracy Linscott, president of the Strongsville Education Association, the contract is quite similar to the terms proposed by the union 10 months ago.
The contract, effective through July 31, 2015, converts the 9.3 percent contribution the district paid into the teachers' retirement fund to salary "by increasing the base salary by 10.3 percent, an amount equivalent to the amount paid by the board prior to the conversion."
The contract also restores raises that were frozen in the 2011-2012 school year and gives teachers who are not eligible for step increases payments of $1,200 in September this and next year. Salaries at Step 20, the highest level, range from $60,975 to $93,827 for teachers with a Ph.D.
The contract also bars any reprisals against students, parents and staff members who took part in the strike and leaves until June 1st the renegotiation of a new teacher assessment system which will put the district in compliance with the new state legislation.
In exchange, the teachers have agreed to shoulder a larger portion of their health insurance premiums in the form of co-pays and deductibles. They will also cover their own dental and vision costs.
The new contracts also omits any mention of class size and school day length limits.
Teachers met for about 2 1/2 hours starting at 5 p.m. Saturday to discuss the pact and vote on it. Those leaving the meeting after casting ballots said they could not discuss the contract, but one said, "I'm happy to be back." Another pumped her fist and said, "Coming back!" They declined to give their names.
Union president Linscott said Sunday that she feels rejuvenated and ready to help bring the schools and community back together.