DPS Superintendent Rhonda Corr said the district would have to pass a new tax levy to afford the proposals the teachers union has made. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

Dayton teachers OK new contract, vote no confidence in superintendent and school board

Dayton Education Association members approved a contract Thursday night, preventing a planned strike Friday, days before the start of classes for Dayton Public Schools.

  • Contract will be for two years, not three as sought
  • Contract offers 3 percent base salary increase annually
  • Contract gives vision insurance

After the contract announcement, union officials said members took a vote of no confidence in Superintendent Rhonda Corr and the school board.

Dayton teachers agree to contract

The contract will be for two years, not three years as the sides had sought. It will offer 3 percent base salary increases each year, according to a document given to union members.

>> MORE: Dayton school leaders send motivational message to staff

The deal does not give teachers the retroactive “step raises” they sought from 2014-16, but does reactivate step raises for future years. The contract adds a flat $750 raise for teachers after their 15th year, and increases the existing raise after the 19th year, according to the union document.

The contract also added vision insurance, with union members paying 10 percent of the premium. The union document says the district is moving forward with five-day-per-week preschool rather than four. It says if the contract was ratified Thursday, the paychecks members would normally have received Friday, will be paid Monday.

RELATED: 10 file to run for Dayton school board in November 

EARLIER:

UPDATE @ 7:13 p.m.

Dayton Education Association members tonight voted to approve an agreement with Dayton Public Schools following 18 hours of talks that ended early Thursday morning.

DEA President David Romick said the agreement came after there was a sudden “bolt of lightning” change in proposals Wednesday night from DPS negotiators.

Hundreds of Dayton teachers pack Marriott to discuss, possibly sign new contract
  • The school board president says the board “absolutely” supports ratifying the tentative contract, but the board will vote Tuesday evening. 

UPDATE @ 5 p.m.

Dayton school Superintendent Rhonda Corr said Thursday “it feels wonderful” to have a tentative contract agreement with the teachers union, but she wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the school district could put a levy on the ballot in the coming years.

Corr didn’t identify an obvious moment when negotiations turned, from a less productive Monday, to a deal early Thursday morning.

“Sometimes it takes time to work things out. It came down to the 11th hour – I should probably say the 18th hour,” she said. “I think both sides get to the point of … is it worth this? Where can we get to? It comes down to a give and take.”

Tentative agreement reached between DPS teachers, administration

Corr had said Tuesday that if DPS gave the teachers everything they were asking for, a levy would be necessary. She wouldn’t go into specifics of the contract provisions Thursday.

“In the contract, there is no reference to a levy,” Corr said. “That’s not something that we can rule out, because the last levy that was passed was in 2008. At some point we may have to do that.”

Despite the late agreement, the district will be ready on Tuesday’s first day of school. She said student scheduling and the assigning of teachers to particular schools “has been rolling along.”

“Students start the scheduling process in the spring, requests are entered, and master schedules have to be drawn out,” Corr said. “Is every school absolutely completed? No. Some are farther ahead than others.”

Corr thanked parents and community leaders for their outpouring of support to get the contract resolved. She said “time will tell” how morale will be affected by the contract fight, but added that she wants her administrative team to better empower teachers – to work with them rather than dictate things to them.

Corr encouraged Dayton residents to attend their back to school rally at Ponitz High School this Sunday, August 13 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

UPDATE @ 2:30 p.m.

Robert Walker, president of Dayton’s school board, said Thursday that the board is “absolutely” in support of ratifying the tentative contract reached early this morning. 

The school board won’t meet to ratify the contract until Tuesday evening, hours after the first day of school. Teachers union President David Romick has said that if the full union ratifies the deal today, teachers will commit to running their classrooms on Tuesday. 

Some questioned why the union (the Dayton Education Association) would agree to starting the school year before the board ratified the deal, but there has been communication between the parties about board support for the contract. 

RELATED: Dayton teacher a finalist for state teacher of the year 

“We’re just so delighted with the job our team has done at the table, and also delighted that DEA found common ground with what we offered,” Walker said. 

Neither group has discussed the specific details of the tentative agreement publicly Thursday, awaiting the union’s vote, at a 4:30 p.m. meeting. 

“We’re committed to have the children come back to the classroom with the teachers they’re going to be with for the rest of the year,” Walker said. “The board is in unity around that because we wanted to avert a strike at all means. … It has been stressful, and we are all experiencing some level of relief.”

RELATED: Big-picture look at teachers’ contract dispute

UPDATE @ 12:45 p.m.

Dayton Public Schools changed its plans twice Thursday, and now does not plan to hold an emergency school board meeting Thursday evening to vote on the contract with its teachers. 

On Thursday morning, new DPS director of strategic communications Venita Kelley first said the board would meet at 11:45 a.m. Friday, then quickly switched that to 6:30 p.m. Thursday. 

Ninety minutes later, at 12:30 p.m., she announced that there will be no special board meeting tonight, and that the board will hold its regular meeting on Tuesday Aug. 15. 

That would mean the board would not vote on whether to ratify the teachers’ contract until hours after the first day of school. 

RELATED: Dayton only Ohio school on verge of strike

The teachers union, Dayton Education Association, is scheduled to hold its ratification vote at 4:30 p.m. today. 

Union President David Romick said Thursday that if DEA membership ratifies the contract, teachers will come to school to teach students on Tuesday, even if the board has not yet ratified the contract.

UPDATE @11 a.m.

Dayton school board officials announced they will hold a board meeting at 6:30 p.m. today, where members are expected to vote on whether to ratify the tentative contract with the teachers union.

The tentative deal was struck early this morning after a marathon mediation session.

UPDATE @8:15 a.m.

More than 100 teachers, central office staff and others gathered at the board headquarters to watch Dayton Public Schools superintendent Rhonda Corr’s back to school presentation Thursday morning.

>> LIVE: Dayton Public Schools convocation

Multiple teachers attending said they didn’t want to comment on a tentative agreement between the district and union until they had actually seen the terms of the tentative contract agreement.

The first day of school is scheduled for Tuesday.

 The negotiating teams for the district and the union reached their tentative agreement around 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

The deal still has to be ratified by both the full union membership, and by the school board to be official.

The union has a membership meeting, closed to the public, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. today, to go over the details of the agreement, which have not been made public. They are expected to take their ratification vote at that meeting.

RELATED: Corr lays out differences between district, teachers union

EARLIER

"You’re stuck, just like negotiations ...”

The building where Dayton teachers and school district leaders are negotiating has two front doors, each with a sign.

The revolving door says “please use other door.” But the second door says “please use revolving door.”

You’re stuck, just like negotiations between the teachers and Dayton Public Schools were stuck late Wednesday night, seven months after they started, and one day before the teachers have said they’ll go on strike.

For the second time in three days, the parties negotiated all day and into the evening, but did not finish a contract agreement. 

Taking a break just before 10 p.m. Wednesday, Superintendent Rhonda Corr said they were still negotiating, and might go for awhile longer. Neither side offered details on whether there was significant progress Wednesday.

“It’s a matter of scheduling”

Teachers union President David Romick said earlier Wednesday that he wasn’t sure if there would be a mediation session on Thursday. Teachers are scheduled to be in their school buildings for a training day today, starting with an 8 a.m. viewing of Corr’s back-to-school convocation speech, which was taped earlier this week. The union also has an afternoon members meeting to offer an update on where talks stand.

“It’s a matter of scheduling.” Romick said of today’s possibilities.

And that schedule is dominated by two things — the strike threat looms at 12:01 a.m. Friday, and 13,000 students return to school on Tuesday.

Trust, economic warfare and wages

There was other news in the background Wednesday. Many of the area’s top politicians – senators, state reps, city and county leadership — sent a bipartisan letter, urging the two sides to settle their differences in the interest of “the children of your community.”

And as teachers tout their value, a Dayton Public Schools teacher, Rachael Murdock, was named the top teacher in the Dayton region and one of five finalists for state teacher of the year.

But where the key work took place, at 111 W. First St., there was no leap forward.

Two veterans of the education world offered differing takes on the stalled negotiations.

Jeff Mims has been on all sides of Dayton schools, serving at different times as teachers union president, district administrator and school board president before becoming a city commissioner. He said when talks aren’t moving, it’s often a matter of trust.

Mims said one side needs to feel that if they reach out and make a big step, that the other side will respect that and respond in kind. After the school district broadcast the details of negotiations to the community on Tuesday, Mims questioned whether that trust exists at the moment.

RELATED: Early results show DPS test scores on the rise

Van Keating, senior staff attorney for the Ohio School Boards Association, had a darker take on where things stood, especially after DPS confirmed teachers will not get their scheduled paycheck Friday if the strike starts Friday.

He called strikes “economic warfare” with each side trying to put as much pressure as possible on the other side.

“If the board pays them anything, that just prolongs the agony for the board, because you have people who are striking, but they have money in their pockets,” Keating said. “The sooner they don’t have money in their pockets, the harder it is for them to economically survive, the more likely it is that they’re going to want to come back to work. It’s kind of ugly stuff when you put it in those terms, and nobody likes to think of it that way, but that’s what it boils down to.”

RELATED: Dayton changes school start times for 2017-18

Corr said Tuesday that wages were the top remaining issue in negotiations. She said the teachers want to be paid back for “step raises” that had been frozen for three years, but that the district couldn’t afford it, adding that teachers had received one form of raise in those years.

Many teachers may take strike loans through the Ohio Education Association, to cover lost pay when they’re not working.

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