Dayton school board gives final OK to bus drivers’ new contract

Dayton’s school board approved the new contract with its bus drivers union by a 5-0 vote Tuesday, formally ending the threat of a drivers’ strike that hung over the school district last week.

Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli declined to comment on the details of the agreement, or what changed in Thursday’s final mediation session, when the tentative agreement was reached. This news organization has requested a copy of the agreement under public records law, but has not yet received it.

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“I’d like to thank both negotiating teams, and the members that were working behind the scenes as well,” Lolli said at Tuesday’s school board meeting. “It was a long day Thursday, but it was a very worthwhile day.”

Jim Gollings, regional director for the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (and chief negotiator for the Dayton drivers in union Local 627), could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

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The strike was originally scheduled to begin Tuesday, but the drivers’ voted “overwhelmingly” to ratify the deal Sunday, stopping that plan. Dayton bus drivers worked their usual shifts Tuesday, under the assumption that the board would take the final step to approve the deal later Tuesday, which it did.

More than 10,000 kindergarten through eighth-grade students ride DPS buses every day to the district’s own schools, as well as charter and parochial schools.

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While details of the final agreement are not available, Lolli said the previous tentative agreement had offered 10 to 15 percent raises to the drivers, which would take their starting pay from $13.85 per hour to roughly $15.75. That’s still lower than most surrounding districts, but DPS officials said better benefits and more guaranteed hours per day make up for the wage gap. Lolli had characterized that offer as “all we can give at this point in time.”

Gollings said the drivers had four concerns about the previous tentative agreement – how retroactive raises or bonuses would be handled for this school year, the pay scale that was settled on, how “extra duty hours” were parceled out to drivers, and practices where drivers were asked to go past the end of their shift.

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