October 25, 2014

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Board OKs Lorain teachers’ contract

LORAIN — A new Lorain Schools teachers contract was unanimously approved Thursday by Board of Education members.

Members of the approximately 450-member Lorain Education Association approved the contract 248 to 32 Wednesday, according to Jay Pickering, association president. The three-year pact includes 1 percent raises in base pay in the first year.

In October 2014, teachers union and school district officials will negotiate whether raises will occur in the second and third year of the contract. Pickering said the delay will allow for more time to assess the district’s finances.

“We know they just got done with a very difficult stretch money wise and we’re starting to see the light,” he said. “We want to see them get stable and then we can both honestly look at the numbers in a year and say what’s fair for everybody.”

Lorain was on the brink of bankruptcy and a state financial takeover until passage of a seven-year levy in November that raises $3.12 million annually. Passage of the levy and increased state taxpayer money in the biennial budget has the district predicting surpluses for the next three school years.

However, deficits are predicted in 2017-18 and 2018-19 if Lorain continues to lose students to charter schools, depopulation and open enrollment. Enrollment decreased from about 10,000 to 7,000 over the last decade.

The union agreed to $4 million in benefit and wage concessions in 2011 with the district facing a $12 million deficit. About 98 teachers were among the 182 school employees laid off last year as part of eliminating about $7.4 million of the $12 million deficit. Some have been recalled because of resignations, retirements and levy passage.

The new contract thaws the 2011 freeze on step increases — incremental raises partially based on academic qualifications and experience — over an 18-month period. Pickering said 30 percent to 40 percent of teachers will receive step increases which were spread out to make it easier for the district to pay them.

The contract, copies of which weren’t available Thursday, also includes longer kindergarten and elementary school days and increased teacher pay if class size maximums are exceeded. The pact balances Lorain’s money problems and previous teacher concessions, board member Mitchell Fallis said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

Teachers contract

The new Lorain Schools teachers contract includes:

  • A 1 percent increase in base pay in the first year of the pact and negotiations in 2014 about whether the second or third years will include raises.
  • Step increases frozen in 2011 are reinstated. Step increases are incremental raises partially based on academic qualifications and experience. A one-step increase occurs this month, followed by one-step increases in January, September and January 2015. Between 30 percent and 40 percent of the approximately 450 teachers will receive step increases.
  • The school day for kindergarten through sixth grade increases from six hours, 55 minutes per day to seven hours, 35 minutes per day matching seventh through 12th grade school days. The increase is expected to begin in January.
  • To encourage the district to keep class sizes smaller, teachers will be paid on a per-student basis if classes exceed maximum levels. Teachers received $100 more and an extra day off annually regardless of how many students exceeded the limit under the previous contract. Under the new contract, kindergarten- through sixth-grade teachers receive $10 per day for each student over the maximum, and seventh- through 12th-grade teachers receive $2.50 per day.
  • The kindergarten- though second-grade maximum is 25 students. Third through sixth grade is 28 students.
  •  Seventh through 12th grade teachers have a 150 student per day maximum for regular classes and 90 students per day for block classes.

Source: Lorain Schools