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'Last, final and best' offer implemented, teachers prepare to strike

January 1, 2012

Wapakoneta City School teachers are preparing for the worst — a possible strike — and hoping for the best — Wapakoneta City School administrators and board members reopening negotiations.

Wapakoneta City School Board of Education members voted 4-0 during a special board meeting Saturday morning to implement its “last, final and best” contract offer which took effect  New Year’s Day. Board member Pat Gibson had an excused absence from the meeting.

“We are extremely disappointed with today’s decision and the whole entire process,” Ohio Education Association (OEA) Labor Relations consultant Pat Johnson told the Wapakoneta Daily News after Saturday’s meeting. “The gloves are off. I think the board and administration are cowards. It was a very cowardly act today.

“All we are asking for is to go back to the table,” she said.

The entire WEA negotiating team was present at the meeting and willing to start negotiations after the New Year’s Eve day meeting.

“As stunned as we are with the board’s actions to implement a contract, you know we have not bargained to impasse on all issues,” WEA Co-President Kim Holloway said during Saturday’s meeting. “The Wapakoneta Education Association came to the negotiations table expecting a counterproposal from the board and was prepared to engage in further discussions on a number of issues.

“The WEA truly believes that both sides continue to have room to negotiate and quite frankly, the WEA strongly believes we are not done negotiating,” she said. “It is clear from the status of the parties’ proposal and the negotiations to date that a mutual agreement is attainable. Therefore we are formally asking the board to return to the negotiations table so that both sides can resume negotiating a fair and equitable successor collective bargaining agreement.”

With the board’s decision, the WEA and the teachers are ready to take the next step.

Johnson explained the teachers voted in December to give the OEA the authority to issue the 10-day strike notice on behalf of the teachers to school  administrators. No notice had been given as of Saturday evening since they must follow OEA protocol.

Superintendent Keith Horner addressed a possible strike by the teachers.

“We have a plan in place,” Horner said. “We intend to have school and to teach the students.”

Horner declined to comment further on the board’s decision after Saturday’s meeting.

Horner explained school board members and administrators could not meet with union representatives on Saturday.

“The negotiations process between the Wapakoneta City Schools and the Wapakoneta Education Association is under the jurisdiction of a federal mediator,” Horner said. “The federal mediator has the ability to bring the two sides together. Any discussions without the federal mediator facilitating the process would be inappropriate.”

Board members referred all questions regarding negotiations to Horner or the board’s attorney Bill Pepple, of Cleveland.

OEA Labor Relations consultant Shelli Jackson and Johnson met with the teachers after the board meeting and they plan to meet with the teachers again on Tuesday. They also intend to set up a strike headquarters next week.

After a roll-call vote was taken, Jackson said other issues between the union and administration and board cannot now be addressed with what board members approved Saturday.

“Whatever you voted in is clearly not in the best interest of your staff, your students or your community,” Jackson said. “For a person who has worked on contracts throughout the state and with teachers who have been on strikes, the amount of harm you are creating is unmeasurable, unfathomable and you will regret it for the rest of your life.

“This is not what we are here for,” Jackson said hoping contract negotiations could be re-opened. “Quite frankly I am very appalled and very sorry and I wish we had a better reason to celebrate tonight, but I guess we are going to go ahead and move forward and do what we need to do.”

The “last, final and best” offer is a three-year contract with no base raises for teacher salaries and no automatic increases based on teacher longevity in the second and third years of the contract. Teachers also would be required to pay more into the cost of health insurance provided by the board.

According to financial reports presented by the board, the school district has lost money four of the last six years. During the 2011 fiscal year, the district lost $1.2 million, cutting the ending cash balance to $3.4 million.

The district is expected to lose an additional $1.6 million this fiscal year.

The existing teacher contract expired June 30. Teachers have been working under the terms of the previous contract before the “last, final and best” offer took affect Sunday.

Teachers and students return to class Tuesday.

Teachers and administrators began negotiations in April. A federal mediator attended five meetings between the end of August and early November to help reach a deal.

In November, board members approved the filing of an unfair labor practice against the WEA for bad faith bargaining, claiming that the association had cancelled nearly a quarter of all its scheduled bargaining sessions and had continually rotated different teachers in and out of the bargaining process.

Board President Willie Sammetinger told the Wapakoneta Daily News Saturday that board members agreed to provide the teachers an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns with negotiations. Board policy of five minutes per speaker and a total of 30 minutes total for public participation was suspended.

“We allowed them quite a bit of leeway in regard to the rules in fairness to everybody,” Sammetinger said. “We felt it would be best to allow them all to address the board with their concerns, thoughts and feelings.”

Johnson said the teachers welcomed the chance to have board members listen to their side.

“We appreciate the board letting the teachers speak because it was a great opportunity for the teachers to express what was in their hearts,” Johnson said.

Comments

Why not?

January 12, 2012 by myopinion (not verified), 2 years 45 weeks ago
Comment: 126

Why isn't this a time to discuss past failures of the administration? After all, that is a part of the reason the school is broke.

Teachers strike

January 12, 2012 by my two cents (not verified), 2 years 45 weeks ago
Comment: 124

I've been reading the comments this week regarding the pending teachers strike. I am not, and never have been a teacher but the comments being made against them are not fair. First, the comments regarding their insurance and other benefits; somewhere along the line people have forgotten how they got those benefits. The school administration and the teacher's union sat down long ago and AGREED to those benefits. Second: any "hint" that the teachers or their union did any of the painting that was done is TOTALLY uncalled for. If the writer knows who did it, then say who did it to the police but don't accuse or hint at the teachers or their union, that is just wrong. Third: The comments about the teachers getting so much vacation. The teachers vacation pay is part of their wages; in other words, their salary is broken down into however many pay periods they have so in other words, they take a smaller pay check per pay and it is stretched out for the whole year so their summer vacation is part of their pay. All this has also been agreed upon by the administration and the teachers. Personally, I don't feel they get anything more there than any other working person. Five: The comments I've read go on and on about teachers salaries.....how many of you have investigated the wages of the administration? Some of those people are making over $100,000.00, $90,000.00, $80,000.00. I haven't heard any of them coming forward and saying they'll take a pay cut, give up their benefits, pay for their summer schooling to earn their teaching credits so they can keep a teaching certificate. So far the letters I've read have bashed the teachers and their union but no one has commented on how The Wapakoneta City School District has thrown away money in the past on a Superintendent that was hired here with a police record and the school administrators at that time had to pay off his pension and the balance of his salary to get rid of him. It was not THIS administration, but my point is I don't remember the citizens dragging the administration being treated the way our teachers are. Don't you think it's time for both the school board, the administration, the teacher's and the teacher's union to take off the gloves, get back to the table, start being grown-up on all sides and show the school district, especially our students, that negotiation,some give some take, is the really right thing to do. If they choose not to do that and keep this up, the children are the real losers here and both sides will be to blame.

Digging a little "Deeper"...

January 11, 2012 by standagainstunion (not verified), 2 years 45 weeks ago
Comment: 120

As for the average years of experience for teachers in our school district; 19.25 percent have 0-4 years experience, 4-10 have 13.9 percent and 66.8 percent have over 10 years of experience. As for the teachers all having master’s degrees, I do not know. Kudos to teachers who wish to further their education however unless it is mandated by statute or a school district I am not entirely sure what your point is. Additionally, since I am not aware of any statute that states all teachers must/shall have a master’s degree I’m not sure this question is even pertinent.

Please be aware I did not base my analysis on any Buckeye Institute data however it was based non-disputable data that can easily be obtained from the Ohio Department of Education. Furthermore, since my data is based on statewide averages of similar school districts determining the economic status of each is irrelevant. The statewide average of similar school districts was used only as a benchmark to evaluate if our teachers are being over/under paid. The obvious truth is that teacher’s in our district are receiving increases in compensation at a quicker rate and are compensated slightly higher than teachers in similar size school districts in this state. Furthermore our teachers salaries have increases much faster than most the population in Ohio during this recession. I personally believe all teachers should be paid in relationship to what their value is to the school district. Wouldn’t this be a fair and reasonable way of compensating our teachers while encouraging less valuable teachers to make themselves available to industry?

I believe teaching is a very honorable and thankless profession. If it was the dream of our teachers to pursue the path they are currently walking then they are definitely blessed. Having grown up in a household of teachers I realized at a young age it takes a special person to be one and I definitely wasn't one!

As for the compensation our administrators receive, this has no place in this debate since we are discussing a contract between our teachers and the school district. I have many reservations concerning our administration’s actions, qualifications for position held and compensation however we can discuss these at a later time.

Finally, our school district is broke. I’m not saying this is a result of our teacher’s level of compensation but just stating a fact. Things need to change within our school district. If the OEA/WEA is successful in “recapturing” past “sacrifices” and/or ”concessions” and if necessary operational changes aren’t made within the district, then we will know that our school board and administrators aren't necessarily fit to hold the positions they were entrusted with. Additionally, without any operational and/or staff restructuring/changes… passing any future levy(s) will be quite difficult if not impossible. (If the SB5/Issue 2 vote is any indication, I believe many in the county are ready to see and would welcome changes in how our governmental agencies and school districts deal with our public servants level of compensation and benefits (it was only defeated in Auglaize County by 4 percent of the vote).)

Teachers Strike

January 10, 2012 by Dawg (not verified), 2 years 46 weeks ago
Comment: 118

I think that is about time that the teachers woke up and seen what is going on in their community. This is a community that has been hit hard by the recession for the past five years. If you didn't lose a job, you got laid off or took huge pay cuts. And yes insurance costs do go up and the employees will always be the ones to shoulder the load.
The teachers might have valid points that need to be addressed, but this is not the time to address those points. With a sluggish economy and wiht people just getting back to work coming off the worst economic nightmare since the Great Depression, this might not be the time to go on strike because they want to freeze your pay and make you pay more for health insurance. I have talked to some of the teachers that say that there is more to this strike than what the board is saying.
Well in my opinion you had better speak up pretty quickly then because you are about to alienate yourselves and ruin one of the best school systems around. Wake up you have chosen an industry that doesn't generate any income / profit and is sustained by the taxpayers — you knew this going into your careers and if you didn't then you slept through your government class.
The last thing that I am going to say is that the taxpayers are the ones that pay for your salary and you are about to bite the hands that feed you not the school board, but the taxpayers, so think long about what you are going to do. Teachers strike, come back one week later, no gains. Teachers strike, no school levies passed ever again, students leave school district, school fails teachers gone. That is the truth and that is what the teachers will live with.

teachers strike

January 11, 2012 by cville (not verified), 2 years 45 weeks ago
Comment: 121

I agree 100 percent the teachers better think cause once they go on strike I believe all medical and insurances stop they have no coverage. think maybe the teachers are bluffing just trying to get the board give into to them. There are folks out there looking for jobs every day and new teachers coming out of school ready to get hired somewhere

Salaries

January 3, 2012 by Buckeye (not verified), 2 years 47 weeks ago
Comment: 112

http://www.buckeyeinstitute.org/teacher-salary

This will let you search any public teacher salary in the state.

The teacher's are about themselves..NOT the students. Boot them out & let some new college grads in. You will save money & the education quality will not drop one bit. May even improve.

Tell these phony whiners to get another profession so we don't have to listen to them whine.

Average WCS Teacher Makes $55,890 in 2010...

January 6, 2012 by standagainstunion (not verified), 2 years 46 weeks ago
Comment: 117

I personally believe we have many talented and hard working teachers and administrators within our school district. I am sure our community would agree that most of the teachers and administrators educating our children is worth every penny they make and many deserve much more. However in regards to our teacher's salary I wanted to do my due diligence to see where our full time teaching staff rate in comparison to similar sized school districts, local school districts and statewide averages.

Per the data from the Ohio Department of Education (CUPP Report) the average salary in our school district between 2006-2010 has increased by approximately 11 percent. The average salary of similar sized school districts in Ohio have seen an increase of 10 percent. The average salary of all school districts in Ohio have seen an increase of 11 percent. The 11 percent increase our teachers received between 2006-2010 seems pretty good when compared to a 6.39 percent per capita increase of all Ohioans for the same time frame.

Looking at these numbers, it leads one to believe that our school district's teachers compensation is in line with similar sized school districts and all school districts in Ohio. However when compare our teachers average salary with those of similar sized districts on an annual basis you will find that our teachers average salary was 4.7 percent higher in 2006, 6 percent higher in 2007, 3.75 percent higher in 2008, 5.43 percent higher in 2009 and 5.67 percent higher in 2010. In a fairness and comparing our teachers to the state average teacher's salary, our teachers earned 2.03 percent less in 2006, 1.15 percent less in 2007, 1.41 percent less in 2008, 0.77 percent less in 2009 and 1.94 percent less in 2010. Seems as though our teachers are getting paid quite fairly (if not a little more on the high side) than similarly sized districts.

I also reviewed the 2006-2009 and 2009-2011 contracts between Wapakoneta City Schools and the WEA teacher's union. In the 2006-2009 contract the union negotiated a salary increase of 3 percent per year (section 21.01). In this same contract teachers negotiated that the school board pay 93 percent of teacher's heath insurance premium (if on "Option A") or the school board would pay 100 percent of a teacher's insurance premium (if on "Option B") (section 22.2). Additionally, the union successfully negotiated that the school board pay 100 percent of a teacher's dental insurance premium (section 22.03) and the school board must provide teachers $30,000 of term life insurance at no cost the teacher.

In the 2009-2010 contract, the union negotiated a salary increase of 0.75 percent per year (section 11.01.1). As for health and dental insurance there was no change and teachers received the same benefit as the previous contract (section13.01.2 & section 13.05). Life insurance coverage was raised 50 percent to $45,000 and remained at no cost to the teacher (section 13.96.1).

In reviewing the 5-year forecast for Fiscal Year 2012, as provided by the Department of Education, our school districts expenses far exceed the revenue being brought obtained from the federal, state and local governments. The disparage amounts to a projected $1.7 million in 2012 to $3.5 million in 2016. This would put our school district in a position by 2013 to have to borrow money to operate to a sum of nearly $500,000 to $9.5 million by 2016.

Something has to give if we wish to continue providing or children with a quality system of education and being provided by a group of outstanding teachers. It appears to me that the school district will need to place an operating levy on the ballot within the next year or two to help minimize the enormous projected debt. Having recently voted to build two new schools, the Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center, make improvements at the Wapakoneta Middle School and the Wapakoneta High School and in this economic environment I think passing such a levy would be met with a great deal of opposition. So where will our school board find the money to pay their staff?

As you see from above, when compared to similar sized school districts our teachers annual salary is on average nearly 4 percent to 6 percent higher. Additionally, teachers are required by the Ohio Revised Code (RC124.81(H); RC 124.81(J)) to receive hospitalization, surgical, major medical, dental, vision, medical care, disability, hearing aids, and prescription drugs. As you can also see from above all of this is at a very low cost to each of them.

I'm sure the union and their representation have what they feel are valid positions however I cannot fathom what they might be. I applaud our school board and hope they continue to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities and make the tough financial choices that benefit the school district as a whole. In my opinion, this does not appear to be "management" punishing "labor". The administration isn't "putting teachers last". I see quite the opposite; they are putting our students FIRST and trying to make the remainder work with what they have.

In closing, I see OEA representatives Pat Johnson and Shelli Jackson disparaging remarks concerning our school district administration as nothing less than a childish and duplicitous attempt to gain public sympathy. On a daily basis our teachers instill into their students not to be bullies. Yet they allow their own leadership attempt to bully our school administration into a contract which does not best serve our children and/or our school district? Their remarks are pathetic, but so was the vandalism of the administration building and threatening letters to our administrators.

Due diligence

January 10, 2012 by Wapakjimmy (not verified), 2 years 45 weeks ago
Comment: 119

I am glad that you did you homework, but you should have researched a little deaper. What is the average years of experience of the teachers you are comparing? Do all of them have master's degrees?
The schools that are of similar size, are the communities all the same economic averages. It is easy to go to Buckeye Institute and compare salaries, but it does not tell you if the teacher has been teaching one year or 35 years. The teachers did get a 3 percent raise, but so did the administators — did they not? If the teachers salaries and benefits are so great then I encourage you to go spend six years in college to follow your dream, because that is what the teachers did!

Give me a break!

January 3, 2012 by Amom (not verified), 2 years 47 weeks ago
Comment: 111

Those teachers are making more than half the folks in this district. And, a lot of them are not doing a good job with our kids. I have students in the high school and the things I hear from kids and parents alike are just stunning. Had they not lumped teachers in with the firefighters and police, whom I think need the right to strike, I would have voted against them being able too in the last election.

I, too would love to hear who is making what... I think we might the biggest do-nothings are making the most. Wapak has a great elementary and middle school.. the high school, not so much. Maybe that's where we need to start cutting some flab.

An awful lot of us these days have to pay for our insurance, and get poor coverage to boot. Wake up and smell the coffee, teachers, welcome to recession. Now, get back to work.

Becoming informed

January 2, 2012 by Concerned Citizen (not verified), 2 years 47 weeks ago
Comment: 109

Please seek out factual information before assuming teachers do not pay for health care. This is simply untrue. Visit the Board office and request public records- find out what the average teacher's salary is, then compare that to others in the private sector with comparable education. The teachers' union has been ready and willing to negotiate with the board. A federal mediator does NOT need to be present in order to negotiate. This issue has less to do with money and more to do with community perception. So far, the Board of Education has created this perception. Seek out the facts! The Board's attorney is being paid $260 to advise the members in the interest of his pocketbook and their political gain. This is the taxpayer's money being spent. Do you believe that the attorney wants to see the issue resolved when he is being paid this much? The teachers in this community love their jobs and care very deeply for their students. It is shameful that their reputation is being tarnished this way. A great community like Wapakoneta should stand behind their teachers in the interest of a better future for our children.

being informed

January 3, 2012 by cville (not verified), 2 years 46 weeks ago
Comment: 114

no one said that the teachers don't pay for health care. healthcare has went up all around. they do need to pay more out of pocket for health care like everyone.

teacher strike

January 2, 2012 by wapak (not verified), 2 years 47 weeks ago
Comment: 108

I think the paper should post the wages of all the teachers and what exactly the raises and benefits (they are asking for ) would look like...so that we as tax payers can see how much of a yearly raise they would be getting etc. Remember all state employee wages are public record.
As far as I can see most teachers are making a good living with their current wages and should be willing to accept a pay freeze as most of us in this economy have had to do so.
I hope the board sticks to its current plan.

teachers strike

January 11, 2012 by cville (not verified), 2 years 45 weeks ago
Comment: 122

got a theme song if they strike na na na na na hey hey good bye if they can wear bottons why not a theme song

best offer

January 2, 2012 by cville (not verified), 2 years 47 weeks ago
Comment: 107

The offer that was the final offer sounds good to me i support the board 100%. the board better not back down an give in. If they give in that means more then likely a new tax levy. the teachers need to pay more for health care.

Let's Be Realistic

January 3, 2012 by WapakFan (not verified), 2 years 47 weeks ago
Comment: 110

I believe the boards offer is fair as well and I don't see that going back to the table is going to be productive as it hasn't been for almost a year. The days of getting top notch health care benefits are gone and most other districts have already made that sacrifice along with other state employees. Also, when there isn't money to give then how can you expect to continue to receive pay raises? Congratulations to the board for not giving in and for not asking tax payers for money as a levy will not pass. If the teachers want to strike then I say let them. All they are doing is letting our students down by not providing them a valuable education during that time as I doubt they will be leaving high quality lesson plans (If Any) for their "Temporary Replacements"

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