We know that contract negotiations with the Euclid Teachers Association – representing our teachers and other members – have prompted many questions in our community. We want everyone to have the facts. Here are answers to some of the most common and important questions. We welcome additional questions. Send your questions to [email protected] and check back here for answers.
Q1: Are the teachers working without a contract?
A1: There is no current contract in place. However, The District is obligated to maintain the terms and conditions of the expired contract until either a new agreement is reached, or the district implements a last, best, final offer. Please know that any last, best, and final offer will include a healthy increase in compensation and top-tier benefits for our teachers, in addition to fair changes to working conditions designed to increase student success. We will continue to negotiate in good faith with the union leaders to reach an agreement.
The Board has had 22 bargaining sessions with Euclid Teachers Association (ETA) union leaders and continues to work to reach agreement. Although we started bargaining with other groups well after with ETA, we have reached agreement or tentative agreement with all of the other associations in the district – only the ETA agreement remains unresolved.
Q2: Why is it taking so long to get a contract with our teachers?
A2: Negotiations are important and take time. We began this negotiation in the spring of 2021. We have worked hard to reach a deal and, in fact, have agreed on many issues. However, we remain at odds on many of the district’s core proposals, which are necessary to allow the district to begin addressing the fact that Euclid is behind most Ohio public school Districts for high school graduation rate, math proficiency, reading proficiency and other measures of student achievement.
Although ETA leadership states that they “are subject matter and teaching experts who have committed their lives to their profession,” the fact remains that Euclid Schools received a “D” on the last state report card that included an overall grade, and the high school received an “F.” This is not acceptable to us and certainly should not be acceptable to them. We value our teachers’ expertise and want to have a process to best match it to our students’ academic needs. While everyone agrees in doing what is best for students, union leadership wishes to create obstacles to our collective purpose. The contract changes we’ve proposed are specifically designed to increase student success.
Q3. Is the Board “unlawfully withholding pay from teachers” by not awarding experience step increases for the 2021-22 school year?
A3. No. In fact, the board specifically offered to address step payments at the beginning of the school year, given steps are not guaranteed year-to-year. The Union refused to engage in these discussions and instead filed unfair labor practice complaints against the Board. The State Employment Relations Board recently dismissed these complaints, emphasizing that “there is no contract language to indicate that step increases are automatic every year.” If the Board were to award step increases for the 2021-22 school year, it would actually be violating its obligations to maintain the terms and conditions of the expired agreement.
Furthermore, the union leadership demonstrated that they know step increases are not automatic because they actively negotiated for step increase payments specifically for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years, within the expired contract, and the 2020-21 school year, within the March 2020 Memorandum of Understanding.
Q4: Did the Board unilaterally increase kindergarten instructional periods without negotiating with the union?
A4: The Board is not requiring kindergarten teachers to work beyond their contracted hours. For the 2021-22 school year, the district adjusted the start time for the Early Learning Village from 9:00 AM to 8:55 AM to better meet Early Learning Village families’ needs and feedback regarding arrival and dismissal times. The terms and conditions of the expired contract limit kindergarten teachers to a maximum of 315 minutes of student contact per day, 281 minutes of which are instructional time. Before the 2021-22 school year, kindergarten teachers were scheduled for 305 minutes of student contact per day, 275 minutes of which were instructional time, well below the maximum limit. The new schedule only requires kindergarten teachers to have 310 minutes of student contact per day, 280 of which are instructional time, still below the maximum limit. In fact, the State Employment Relations Board dismissed the union’s unfair labor practice complaint regarding the kindergarten teachers’ schedule, finding the district’s schedule change fell within the terms and conditions of the expired contract.
Q5: Is the Board deliberately dragging out contract negotiations?
A5: Absolutely not, and for the ETA leadership to say that the board is delaying negotiations is ridiculous. The board has engaged in lengthy negotiations for more than 22 days. The union stated the board cut the last session short. The fact is that the union did not deliver their proposal ahead of the meeting as promised, and after numerous hours of discussion lasting until approximately 10 pm, the board wrapped up the session. By that time, it was clear the negotiations, that night, would not end with agreement of terms or progress toward proposed language.
The prolonged negotiation is actually counterproductive to the board’s goals, as it forces the administration to follow old contract language that hinders the collective progress toward District improvements. The district would rather spend valuable time in collaboration with stakeholders towards advancing the Euclid schools, than in protracted negotiations.
Q6: Is the Board seeking to impose contract language that would allow them to “push teachers out of their classrooms and arbitrarily reassign them to serve their own agendas,” as argued by the union?
A6: Absolutely not. The board is seeking to modernize the contract to include language that would allow the district to collaborate with the teachers and ensure that teachers are working in classrooms that fit their skill set. This is in the best interest of teachers, students and the district as a whole. As always, the district seeks to collaboratively work with teachers to make sure teachers are assigned to the classrooms where they and their students can excel. The current model of basing such a critical decision on seniority, and without the building leader’s input, is antiquated and has not served the needs of our children. We must do better for our children.
Q7: I’ve heard that, unusually, the hang-up is not compensation, but that the teachers do not want to provide more instructional time to their students. What exactly are you offering the teachers?
A7: We have offered fair contract language, a healthy increase in compensation and top-tier benefits. We have also requested changes to meaningfully impact student achievement, the academic gap, high school graduation, and other student supports. The board is interested in creating a collaborative process that includes teachers, union leadership, school leaders, and our families that puts the best interest of children first. Once again, we value our teachers’ expertise and want to have a process to best match it to our students’ academic needs instead of satisfying the current seniority-based system and a high school schedule that is outmoded for the times we are in.
We know our School District is behind most Ohio public school Districts for high school graduation rate, math proficiency, reading proficiency and other measures of student
achievement. We can and must do better. The offer we made is fair and is designed to help our students do better in the classroom, while providing a healthy increase in compensation.
Q8: What if the teachers go on strike?
A8: That would be unfortunate and unnecessary. However, the decision to engage in a work stoppage resides completely with the teachers. To strike under these circumstances would be an extraordinary step since our teachers are being offered fair language, competitive compensation, and healthcare. The district remains squarely focused on terms that benefit our students. A walkout under these terms, particularly when so many in our community are facing financial hardship and job loss, would be disappointing.
We have worked tirelessly to come up with an offer that provides fair language, a healthy increase in compensation, and maintains top-tier benefits.
In the event of a work stoppage, we plan to seamlessly move to virtual learning, as we have had to do a few times over the course of the past year, to best serve our students. However, as we have shared many times, the district believes that children learn best in person with our highly qualified and caring teachers and staff.
It is not necessary that the negotiations result in a strike. Both sides have worked hard to arrive at this point. Our number one priority remains our students – and we believe firmly that we share that priority with our dedicated teachers.
Q9. Is the Board being unreasonable?
A9. No. We have worked tirelessly to come up with an offer that provides fair language, a healthy increase in compensation, and sustains top-tier benefits.
Despite starting negotiations much later with our other unions, most frustrating is that the board has been able to reach agreements with every other union in its District – six of them – it is the Euclid Teachers Association that remains unreasonable.