Rocky Fork Enterprise

District, teachers reach tentative contract deal

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Teachers in Gahanna-Jefferson schools would receive base salary raises this year and next year but none in 2015, under a proposed three-year labor deal.

Raises would amount to 1.5 percent this year and 1 percent next year under a contract the teachers union ratified Oct. 5 and the board will decide on Oct. 10. They also receive step raises -- annual pay bumps based on seniority.

But the union agreed to keep teachers one year behind on their salary schedule, a carryover from when the union took a pay freeze in 2012.

The district provided the tentative agreement today in response to a Dispatch records request. "Everyone understands that we must demonstrate good stewardship of local tax dollars allocated to the district," a district release said.

The contract would be one of the first in the area to incorporate new teacher evaluations required this year under state law.

Teachers would be graded in part by how much growth their students make in a year, earning one of three ratings established by the state. But in Gahanna, the district wouldn't use that data for promotion or firing decisions until 2016.

New state laws also forbid districts from making layoff decisions based on seniority, but the Gahanna proposal would give preference to teachers with "continuing contracts," who typically have more experience.

Teachers with "limited contracts," who generally have fewer years of work, would be the first to be laid off in a financial crisis. Only if all "limited" teachers were laid off would any with "continuing" contracts be targeted.

The second factor to determine layoffs would be which grade level or subject a teacher is licensed in, followed by performance on the new evaluations. The district would treat all evaluations the same, though, until July 2014.

On top of salary raises, the proposed deal would also pay teachers for hitting certain goals. Teachers who worked last year would earn $400 because the district earned an A for the number of indicators met on the state report card.

For each of the next two years, if the district hits that mark again, teachers would receive "recognition pay" of $200.

The district's contribution to health care policies would not increase by more than 9 percent annually, beginning in 2015.

In January 2014, teachers and the school board also would receive a one-month "premium holiday" in which they would not have to pay health-insurance premiums.

Teachers would also have incentive to give retirement notice sooner: Those who notify the treasurer by Jan. 15 each year would receive $1,000.

Superintendent Francis Scruci declined to comment beyond the media release, which states he believes the deal "allows the district to meet the many challenges facing the district, including economic challenges and variables involving compensation and health insurance."

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