Dayton teachers have been negotiating with the school district since January. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

Mediator to meet with teachers, DPS separately in July

A federal mediator will meet with both Dayton Public Schools and its teachers union independently in early July, teachers union president David Romick said Tuesday.

The sides have been negotiating toward a new labor contract since January, but mediation was suspended on June 6 because of a lack of progress.

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Romick said he believes the mediator’s intent is to get the parties to reset their approach in advance of further mediation sessions in August. Romick said it’s possible the district and union could have more formal mediation sessions before August, but he called it unlikely.

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The teachers union has a meeting scheduled for Aug. 1. Romick said it’s possible the teachers could vote at that meeting to issue the required 10 days’ notice ahead of a strike. The new school year begins Aug. 15.

At the beginning of Tuesday’s school board meeting, Joe Lacey read a statement from the board, expressing a mix of appreciation for teachers’ “tireless dedication” along with a commitment to fiscal responsibility.

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“This board is committed to spending tax dollars wisely while also treating our teachers equitably,” Lacey said. “Our intent is to provide our teachers with a contract that recognizes and rewards the significant contributions they make to the district every day, while also ensuring that it falls into line with our overall spending needs and fiscal responsibility.”

Once again, more than 100 teachers attended the school board meeting, with some speaking passionately about their dedication to serving needy students in Dayton, rather than seeking jobs elsewhere.

Brian Urquhart, a longtime Dayton teacher, had the audience laughing with his speech to the board about the things dedicated teachers do — preparing in the summer, grading in the evenings, calling parents on off hours — even though those efforts “don’t buy the groceries, and don’t pay the bills.”

RELATED: Federal mediator suspends talks

Superintendent Rhonda Corr repeated her frequent comment to DPS teachers that “we absolutely respect you,” and said she hopes to be able to get back to mediation soon. She congratulated all staff for preliminary results that showed DPS’ third-grade reading scores improved this year.

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