Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Parkway board approves new teacher contract

By Leslie Gartrell
ROCKFORD - Applause and a call for a celebratory beer rang out of the Parkway Local Schools' community room after school board members during their Monday meeting approved a new three-year contract with teachers after nine months of negotiating.
The new three-year contract with teachers will begin July 1, 2021, and expire June 30, 2024, superintendent Jeanne Osterfeld said. Teachers will receive 3%, 2.5% and 2% raises each year.
Board members unanimously approved the contract after meeting in executive session for nearly an hour to discuss negotiations and personnel appointment or evaluation, discipline and compensation.
School board members and Parkway Education Association members have been negotiating since April 2021, while teachers worked under a contract that expired June 30, 2021.
The new contract also includes an additional $1,900 health savings account payment each year of the contract, Osterfeld said. If a teacher does not have an HSA account, that money can be put into one of their retirement accounts or be taken as a lump sum, Osterfeld said.
Osterfeld also said there was no change to the insurance language that was in the expired contract.
PEA president Anita Morton and Osterfeld said the contract contained no other major changes.
"We're very pleased with the contract," Osterfeld said. "We're excited that we're able to move forward with a contract that everybody feels is fair."
Osterfeld also thanked previous school board members Tom Lyons and Melissa Burtch for their contributions during negotiations. Lyons and Burtch were replaced by newcomers Les Nicholas and Mark Kimmel.
The district's previous contract began July 1, 2018, and expired on June 30, 2021. The expired contract gave teachers raises of 2.5%, 2% and 1% for 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Morton had said teachers were seeking an acceptable health care package from the school board, not higher pay.
A federal mediator was brought into negotiations in July, but school board members later dismissed the mediator, Morton had said. A new federal mediator, Kevin Moyer, was brought aboard in November for negotiations, Osterfeld had said.
Morton on Monday said the school board and PEA negotiating teams met face-to-face for negotiations on Jan. 18 without lawyers or representatives from the Ohio Education Association. The teams negotiated for two and a half to three hours, Morton said. The PEA met again on Jan. 19 and overwhelmingly ratified the now-approved contract, Morton said.
"We're just hoping things at this point basically settle down and (teachers can) keep on teaching without extra stress," Morton said.
Staff, students, parents and Parkway community members for months have flooded school board meetings in support of teachers as contract negotiations stalled.
Businesses and individuals made signs declaring "We support Parkway teachers," and teachers held a demonstration in October in hopes school board members would reach a settlement.
Retired staff, such as former elementary school principal Mark Esselstein and retired teachers Art Bader, Kay Brandt and Tammy Boroff spoke at school board meetings to encourage school board members to reach an agreement with teachers.
PEA negotiators and teachers had taken issue with a lack of face-to-face negotiations between the two parties. Morton had said September was the last time the two teams had met in person.
The next school board meeting is 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14 in the community room in the high school wing.
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