Just two days after several Strongsville schools were closed, school officials found another threat of violence.
STRONGSVILLE, Ohio - The Strongsville City Schools Board of Education held an emergency board meeting Sunday morning and with a 5-0 vote, they approved the agreement that was ratified by the Strongsville Education Association Saturday night.
"I'm so relieved. I'm just awaiting details about when we're going to go back and how that's going to work," said SEA President Tracy Linscott over the phone Sunday. Linscott told NewsChannel5 the agreement was a long time coming and added, "The last 10 months for members have been difficult where we've been fighting, you know, standing up for what we believe in and fighting for what we believe is right."
Linscott said the newly approved three-year contract includes the step and column salary increases the SEA fought for, which according to the contract, brings the basic starting teacher salary to $38,361, but there were other issues not settled on. Linscott told NewsChannel5 the SEA's proposal had language for class size, describing some of the kindergarten and high school classes as having 28 and 38 students in one room.
Krupinski, Sunday, acknowledged that language telling reporters, the BOE's existing contract no contract prior to this that he knows of, never had class size in it.
"Our class sizes in certain subject areas, perhaps at the high school level, um, maybe a little high," said Krupinski, "but our average class size in the elementary grade is less than 25 across the district. That's not unreasonable." "Why put something in that, really, in most cases doesn't need to be addressed," he added.
Krupinski said there was language in the SEA's proposal that provided extra compensation for larger classes and gave an example.
"You have a grade level in a certain school and you made the class size 23, and the class size goes to 25, well in the proposal they were going to take extra compensation for that. But 25 isn't unreasonable. I mean, it all depends on effect, the make-up of the class," said Krupinski.
Linscott said the language was changed in their later proposals. Linscott said over the phone, "We even had some language in there on our April 15th proposal that would allow the board to not honor that language in years where it was not financially feasible. They disagreed and did not accept that language either, which to me says -- again it goes a long way of saying, you know, was it really what was best for the kids? Were they fighting for what was best for kids? And I think the answer to that was a flat out no, they were not."
What ended the strike, Linscott said, were the SEA concessions to benefits that didn't come until Friday. Linscott described the teachers union as now basically paying double the cost for their health insurance, something Krupinski said offset the increase in compensation to teachers.
"We are pleased with this agreement. We have an agreement that is sustainable into the future," said David Frazee, board president in a news release. "Essentially, the SEA agreed to concessions on teachers' healthcare plans that offset the increase in compensation teachers will be getting. There is no material increase in cost from our April 14, 2013 proposal."
He also said it helped the district got $3.2 million in unanticipated funds from delinquent real estate taxes, tax increment financing and the county first- half 2013 tax collections.
"We will consider using these funds to eliminate General Education fees and reduce pay-to-participate fees. The community will want to know whether there is a no reprisal clause in this agreement. Like most final agreements after a strike, there is a no reprisal clause," explained Frazee. "However, both the SEA and BOE recognize that the decisions made by law enforcement, the Berea Municipal Court or the Ohio Department of Education are separate and apart from this agreement."
"I am very proud of our administrative team and the dedication of our non-teaching staff. We appreciate the support of our parents and community as well as the initiative and flexibility of our students during two challenging months," said Krupinski, who also thanked the substitute teachers for stepping in to help the schools and students, "when we needed them."
With all sides ready to move forward, Krupinski announced the transition schedule for Monday. There will be no class for students, but for teachers, the schedule is as follows:
- From 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., substitute teachers will remove their belongings from the schools
- From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the administration will leave the schools.
- From 2 p.m. to 6p.m., teachers can return to their classrooms and set up for school on Tuesday
All evening activities at the schools will go on as scheduled, including Monday night.
The 8th grade OAA science test and OAA make-up tests will take place on Wednesday.
To view the tentative agreement reached, click here ( http://www.strongnet.org/cms/lib6/OH01000884/Centricity/Domain/1069/Tentative%20Agreement%204-28-13.pdf )
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