Hundreds of teachers attended the Dayton school board meeting Wednesday, then rallied on the street corner outside, as contract negotiations between Dayton’s teachers union and the district drag on.
Teachers union President David Romick acknowledged the many challenges of succeeding in a large urban school district.
“It’s going to take … a deliberate decision on the part of this district to put the teachers and the students they teach first in decision-making,” Romick said. “Teacher working conditions ARE student learning conditions.
The current contract expires this summer. Romick said through 20 sessions, contract negotiations have been more complex than usual, with more issues on the table than Romick has seen in the past. Those include teacher pay, the need for guidance counselors and staffed libraries in DPS schools, a move to five-day preschool, and more.
“Things are going very, very slowly. We’ve had 20 full-day negotiating sessions and are very far apart as far as resolving this contract,” Romick said. “We need to be able to offer competitive salary and benefit packages, because we’re losing teachers out the Dayton Public Schools door every single day.”
The school board was discussing contract negotiation issues in executive session Wednesday night.
Layoffs not planned
The 33 paraprofessionals (classroom aides) who were at risk of layoff from DPS last fall will have the opportunity to move into preschool aide positions next school year.
DPS assistant superintendent Elizabeth Lolli outlined a broad reconfiguration, in which Title 1 funding previously used for those paraprofessionals will be shifted to pay for teacher-leaders in each school. She said the district already has 90 applications.
Lolli said those teacher-leaders would be in coaching and teaching roles, rather than administration. She said those master teachers will work in curriculum implementation with teacher teams and building leaders, so they can spread their expertise.
The district will also add kindergarten and first-grade phonics teachers to work with students who test below benchmarks on reading tests.
“That’s a good thing for the district that we’re not going to be losing any of our highly qualified paraprofessionals because of RIF or layoff,” Lolli said. “We’re very pleased that we’re able to make that personnel change.”
**David Bowman, president of the Ohlmann Group, which just started running marketing for DPS, detailed the “great things are happening” campaign that launched recently. Bowman said as the campaign has begun, new student enrollment is up 13 percent compared to the same period last year.
** The public comment section featured numerous speakers on a wide range of topics – from support for teacher pay, anger over the handling of the Dunbar football eligibility problems, water damage to Longfellow school, questions about handcuffing of students, lack of computer access for substitute teachers, and even a call for all seven school board members to resign.
** At 8:30 p.m., three hours after the start of the meeting, the school board was in closed, executive session to discuss multiple issues. The board delayed votes about bus purchases and the future of athletic director Mark Baker until after the executive session.