Ohio

After Pay Skyrockets, Brecksville-Broadview Heights Union Threatens Strike

Organizations

The local Ohio Education Association (OEA) affiliate in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District, where average teacher pay increased 25 percent from 2005 to 2010, has filed a strike notice with district officials. In 2005, the average Brecksville-Broadview Heights teacher was paid $62,882, excluding insurance and pension benefits. By 2010, average pay in the district had increased to $78,868 according to Ohio Department of Education records.

While the average Brecksville-Broadview Heights teacher enjoyed huge salary gains from 2005 to 2010, the average local taxpayer was less fortunate: data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Ohio Department of Taxation show that per capita income in Brecksville fell by almost 13 percent during the same five year period.

According to Census records, the average Brecksville resident earned $41,435 in 2010 – in other words, the average Brecksville public school teacher was paid 90 percent more than the average Brecksville taxpayer. In 2010, only two schools in the entire state paid teachers more than those employed in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights district.

Coverage by the Sun Star-Courier suggests the teachers’ union was upset that the school district posted copies of the contract offered to the union, and the union’s contract proposals, for public review, in the interest of public transparency.

The school district’s request that taxpayer money pay for only 80 percent of teachers’ healthcare premiums – instead of the current 90 percent which taxpayers pick up – has been another sticking point in negotiations.

District superintendent Scot Prebles noted, “if we continue to spend at our current rate, in Fiscal Year 2013, the district will be spending $350,000 more per month than it’s taking in – so our deficit spending will be $4.2 million. If we continue into the next year, Fiscal Year 2014, the district will be deficit-spending about $5.8 million, which translates into about $483,000 per month.”

“The board’s concern, obviously, is ‘how do we slow that trajectory,’” Prebles explained during an interview with Media Trackers. “‘How do we go about doing that’ is what the ‘sticking point’ is about – that’s what the negotiation process is designed to remedy. How do we come together to discuss the financial issues of the district, while maintaining the quality education the district is known for? The board wants to also do this in a way that’s fair for the employees.”

Additionally, the Brecksville-Broadview Heights Education Association (BEA) has demanded the school district reduce the amount of teaching the local union’s president is expected to do by one-third in order to conduct union business during the school day.

BEA wants teachers to be required to work only seven hours and thirty minutes each school day instead of a normal eight-hour work day, and is also demanding an entire month of paid “release days,” during which teachers may conduct union business and attend union meetings while still receiving school district pay.

The district has requested that a federal mediator step in, and has agreed to give teachers previously planned pay increases this year even though BEA may go on strike. Prebles noted that federally mediated negotiations are scheduled to begin on July 29.

Historically speaking, Prebles said, classes may still begin as scheduled even if a contract has not been agreed to by the beginning of the school year. In the past, agreements between the Board of Education and the union have been reached as late during the school year as November with no disruption to classes.

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