Statement on classified/certified contract vote

At last Thursday’s school board meeting, the board voted on new 3-year contracts for certified staff (teachers) and classified staff (support personnel). I voted not to approve these contracts – not because our staff does not deserve a raise, not because they have not done an absolutely incredible job with the new challenges facing them, but because our upcoming financial situation is too uncertain right now. Below is the statement I made regarding my vote. Please email me or post here to ask any questions.

The contracts were not approved by the board to a 4-1 vote. Mr. Hamm, Mrs. Chesnut, and Mr. Meranda joined me in voting no; Mr. Yockey voted to approve the contract.

First, I would like to thank our teachers and other staff members for all they are doing during this unprecedented time. I greatly value our teachers’ commitment and dedication to their students and our district. They are showing incredible flexibility right now as they adjust to remote teaching.

When our administrators started negotiations earlier this year, the world looked very different than it does today. Overnight, we went from “business as usual” with an expanding economy, to an uncertain time that is forcing families, businesses, and even school districts to make difficult financial decisions. Ohio recently crossed a sad milestone – more than 1 million people in the state have filed unemployment claims. That doesn’t even include the hundreds of thousands who have taken pay cuts, been forced to reduce their hours, or have taken lower-paying jobs.

As a school district, we face an unclear financial future. We rely on state funding for a third of our revenue. The state is facing a $2 billion deficit for the fiscal year ending in June and is making cuts across every level of government to prepare for a larger deficit in the upcoming fiscal year.

We would be prudent and fiscally responsible to expect our funding will be impacted by the state’s deficit. In fact, a recent study from the Brookings Institute said that school districts should anticipate reduced state funding in the 2020-21 school year

I also recognize that many parents in our district are juggling serious financial and career challenges as they teach their children from home, and many of our friends and neighbors are finding themselves part of the 1 million out of work. 

This is a difficult and uncertain time for everyone. Because we currently have no idea how this pandemic will affect our financial forecast, I believe it would be imprudent to make a long-term commitment regarding an expenditure that accounts for such a large portion of the district’s budget. 

I’m hopeful that we can reach an agreement that is satisfactory to both sides and considers the unprecedented challenges we all face right now.

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