Centerville schools, teachers OK more frugal contract after tax levies failed

District’s projections still show deficit spending, but not as severe; teachers get smaller one-time stipend, other adjustments during two years of no base salary raise



The Centerville School District’s Board of Education approved a new collective bargaining agreement Tuesday, culminating months of negotiations with the Centerville Classroom Teachers Association.

The new contract, which goes into effect on July 1, stipulates a zero-percent increase to the base salary for all district employees for the next two years. The board voted to approve the contract by a 4-0 margin. Abstaining from the vote was board President Allison Durnbaugh, whose husband is a district administrator.

“This agreement highlights a strong partnership between the Board of Education and our dedicated staff as we work together to provide a high-quality education for all students while helping to reduce the district’s deficit spending,” Superintendent Jon Wesney said during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

The new five-year financial forecast posted on the schools’ website still shows the district in deficit spending each upcoming year, but at lower levels than previously projected ($2 million better in 2024-25 and $4 million better in 2025-26). But even before the new contract has an effect, Centerville schools had previously estimated they would operate at a $4.1 million deficit this school year, and that projection is now down to a $2.5 million deficit.

The contract negotiation between the district and the teachers union, which represents 550 teachers and other professionals, comes at a time the district is working to reduce costs following voters rejecting tax levy requests in November 2023 and this past March.

“We’re coming off two levy failures where there’s clearly an issue with funding and the taxpayer is seeing that our funds are going to be tight,” said Brian Cayot, who has been president of the teachers union for 19 years. “We’re probably not looking at any new money until (2026), at the earliest, so we made this agreement that hopefully will tide the district over and (as) a gesture to the community that teachers are sacrificing as well.

“Teachers are making a huge sacrifice taking a zero-percent pay increase for two years on the base during record inflation,” Cayot said.

While base pay will stay the same, the subset of teachers who reach new experience or education levels as defined in the contract during those two years will still be eligible for the “step” raises that are called for when they move to those new levels, the district confirmed.

The board and the union have been working on a new contract since January. The previously approved contract, which started July 1, 2021, is set to end June 30. The base salary increase was 1.9% per year for each year of that 3-year contract, district officials said.

According to the Ohio Department of Education’s 2023 District Profile Report, Centerville’s average teacher salary of $83,112.56 was in the top 7% statewide, and highest in the core Dayton area. Per the contract, starting pay for a Centerville teacher with no experience is $45,074 per year, and the maximum is $117,171 (34-plus years of experience plus a master’s degree and 30 additional credit hours).

Following the school board vote, Vice President John Doll said teachers won’t just be losing out on salary because of the missed raises, but also the compounding growth those raises would have generated in their salaries for years to come.

The new contract does include a 1% non-recurring stipend (up to a maximum of $1,000) that is not added to the base salary, plus enhanced professional development opportunities. It also modifies teachers’ “longevity steps” on the salary schedule.

“Teachers who come to Centerville schools can bring up to seven years of previous experience from another district and eventually remain frozen on the same step of our pay scale without additional pay for nine years,” said district spokeswoman Sarah Swan. “This change honors longevity of service in Centerville while providing more consistent step increases for teachers. The maximum salary remains the same since there is no increase to base salaries.”

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