Columbus City Schools teachers approve new contract to end strike
Members of the Columbus Education Association voted 71% to 29% to approve a new three-year contract with Columbus City Schools.
The ACE bargaining team released contract details to members on Sunday at a general membership meeting in Huntington Park, where members of the union of 4,500 members — which represents teachers, librarians, nurses, counsellors, psychologists and other education professionals — voted by paper ballot.
With the agreement, Columbus City students will resume in-person classes on Monday. The Columbus City Schools Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting to ratify the agreement for 8 a.m. Monday, about a half hour after students at some schools begin classes.
Among the highlights of the Columbus three-year agreement
- A 4% increase each year of the three-year agreement
- A contractual guarantee that all student learning areas will be air-conditioned no later than the start of the 2025-2026 school year, including the installation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning in buildings currently without HVAC, and in buildings that currently only have a partial HVAC;
- Reductions to class size caps in all classes, reducing the number of students in each class by two over the course of the contract;
- First-ever limitations on the number of buildings assigned to each elementary-level art, music, and physical education teacher, with a schedule for one specialist per subject per building;
- The first-ever contractual limitation on the number of CEA positions that can be outsourced to out-of-town companies, “ensuring that our students are educated by experienced professionals from our local community.” and
- An innovative paid parental leave program for teachers
“It is important to remember that barely ten days ago, during our last negotiation session before the strike, the CEA was told ‘no’ to guaranteed air conditioning and heating in all buildings,” no” to reducing the size of classes in colleges and high schools. , and “no” to improving access to art, music and physical education at the elementary level. said CEA spokeswoman Regina Fuentes. “Over 4,000 of our members stood firm on the picket line, our community joined in the fight, and we achieved victories on all three issues.
Columbus students will resume school tomorrow
With tonight’s vote, in-person classes for Columbus students will resume tomorrow, Fuentes confirmed.
“We are so excited to get back to where we belong – our classrooms – doing what we do best – educating our students and shaping the future of our great city,” she said.
The figure presented for the increases drew boos from the crowd when it was presented, and the negotiating team also said they had “not budged” on health benefits, which also drew boos.
Some teachers expressed their dissatisfaction with the contract and urged others to vote against the proposal.
CAOT President John Coneglio said the bargaining team is “proud of the work they have done.”
“We offered you a contract that we put our heart and soul into,” Coneglio said. “We put everything we could into it.
“We are very pleased to present this conceptual agreement to our members for ratification,” Coneglio said. “We believe that after a week of sacrifice by our community and teachers, fighting side by side, we have reached an agreement that our students deserve.”
Columbus City School Board President Thanks AEC Members for ‘Thorough Review of This Agreement’
At a press conference on Sunday after the results of the CEA vote were announced, the president of the Columbus City School Board Jennifer Adair thanked ACE members and said the agreement was a win for children.
“To all CAOT members, we say thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this agreement and your unwavering commitment to supporting our children and their families,” Adair said. “We look forward to bringing our children back to their schools with you tomorrow.”
Adair said a turning point in the negotiations during the marathon bargaining session from last Wednesday to Thursday morning was when she was present at the bargaining table, contrary to the tradition of sending a negotiating team instead of the advice.
“It was a really long night and we accomplished a lot – we really discussed some of those sticking points,” Adair said. “But it was important that the board was there to put a finalized offer on the table.”
“I know in contract negotiations it’s expected to be adversarial, us versus them,” Adair said. “But in reality, if we stand against them, we only hurt our children.”
Speaking to students in the district, Adair said, “Every adult in this district, every member of the community really cares about you. And when we saw our community supporting our teachers (during the strike), it’s really support for you.”
Adair recognized the problems with Columbus City’s school buildings and the need to upgrade, improve, and replace buildings.
“Teachers aren’t wrong in what they’re talking about,” Adair said. “Moving forward, we need to fix urban education.”
CEA members voted on contract at Huntington Park
AEC members began entering the ballpark for the scheduled 4:30 p.m. meeting through an exterior entrance and lined up behind the roll call area. Many members took to the first base side in the shade, and many members carried umbrellas and wore sunscreen for protection from the sun with temperatures approaching 90 degrees.
In the stands, a cheer band called the CEA Strike Band was playing Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” and a white car with orange writing saying “Support Columbus Teachers” was doing laps outside the stadium.
At the 4:30 p.m. start time, some teachers expressed frustration at a long line to enter the stadium and some appeared to turn around and leave the line while others continued to wait for the stadium. ‘hall. Members were still filling out at 5 p.m. and the meeting didn’t start until about 5:15 p.m.
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Columbus City Schools and CEA negotiators reached a “conceptual agreement” early Thursday morning after more than 12 hours of discussions under the guidance of a federal mediator.
The bargaining session took place on the third day of the teachers’ strike and the first day of district-wide classes, as many students struggled to connect to remote classes, attend classes, or even picket alongside their teachers.
Columbus City Schools: In-Person Classes Scheduled Monday, Sports and Group Practices Aug. 26
The district seemed somewhat confident that the union would approve the proposed contract. In a letter posted Thursday on Facebook and other social media, Columbus City Superintendent of Schools Talisa Dixon said she was “pleased to share that our children will return to in-person instruction on Monday.”
Columbus City Schools Strike:District and Columbus Education Association Reach Conceptual Agreement
Columbus City Schools also announced all track, group and drill team practices next Friday.
CEA officials initially struggled to find a place to hold a contract ratification vote for its nearly 4,500 members on such short notice. The Greater Columbus Convention Center and Schottenstein Center were booked, the Nationwide Arena was under construction.
Huntington Park, which seats 10,100, is owned by Franklin County.
Journalist Cole Behrens contributed to this story.