State lawmaker backs Dayton teachers in strike dispute

State Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton

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State Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton

Republican State Rep. Jeff Rezabek issued a statement Tuesday “in complete support” of Dayton’s teachers as they try to negotiate a new contract with Dayton Public Schools.

“They deserve a wage increase; one that is competitive with other local school districts, so that we can maintain our strongest and most talented faculty,” Rezabek’s statement said. “Additionally, they need better healthcare as well as ample planning time to put forth the best lesson plans for our students.”

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It’s not common for a Republican to align with a teachers union, but Rezabek – a lawyer, high school bowling coach and guardian ad litem for disadvantaged children — said his focus is on what’s best for the children of the district. He said losing good teachers to other schools that can pay more hurts those kids.

“Whether I’m Republican or Democrat, I think everybody wants to have a great school system for the children of the community,” he said. “As you’re negotiating, make sure you have a photo of our children in the center of that table. This is what it’s about. I know everybody wants to make it about themselves, but for me, in the city of Dayton, our children need good quality education to lift them up.”

TIMELINE: How did Dayton schools and the teachers reach this point?

The school district and the teachers union have been trying for seven months to reach a new contract, but have not succeeded yet. The parties had full-day mediation sessions Thursday and Monday, and another session is scheduled for Wednesday.

The teachers union has said if a tentative agreement is not reached by Thursday night, they will go on strike at 12:01 a.m. Friday. The first day of school for students is Tuesday, Aug. 15.

Rezabek lives in Clayton, but his legislative district includes some northern pieces of the Dayton school district, including the area around the Meadowdale schools. He said he remains hopeful that the parties will resolve their dispute ahead of Friday’s deadline.

He raised the issue of time clocks that DPS installed in schools so that teachers would have to clock in and out.

“Our teachers should not have a ‘time clock,’ they are professionals and should be treated as such,” Rezabek said. “It has become apparent in Dayton Public Schools that this is not the case and therefore, I applaud our educators for using all of their tools at their disposal to push for better conditions and wages.”

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Teachers union President David Romick has said it’s possible a new levy would have to be passed if the district approves solid raises and additional counselors and librarians. Superintendent Rhonda Corr said the school district can’t give the teachers everything they’re asking for because DPS has to be responsible with taxpayer money.

Rezabek acknowledged a levy could be difficult, but said investing in the quality of the schools could make more businesses willing to locate in the city, so that the community “would get that money back in the end.”

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