School district officials frequently pay lip service to the "team approach" to education taken by teachers, support staff and administration.

School district officials frequently pay lip service to the "team approach" to education taken by teachers, support staff and administration.

In the Hilliard City School District, they back up those words with action.

When members of the Hilliard Education Association (HEA) and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) Local 310 recently agreed to a contract extension and wage freeze with the school board, district employees proved their dedication to the students they serve.

The action of the district's entire workforce will save Hilliard taxpayers approximately $1.4-million over the next year. It also buys the district another year before it will have to ask voters for additional funds.

Approximately 1,200 teachers and 444 custodians, classroom aides, clerks, secretaries, maintenance workers, technology support staff and bus drivers make up the union workforce.

HEA president Rick Strater said the teachers were aware of the school district's financial situation and felt that given the current economic climate, the contract extension and wage freeze were "the correct thing to do."

OAPSE president Gary Heyder echoed Strater's comments.

"We, the support staff for the district, understand the difficulties of today's economy," Heyder said. "This agreement will help protect jobs, while ensuring our students continue to receive a quality education."

School board president Andy Teater praised staff members for acting in the best interest of the district and its students.

"This districtwide agreement truly exemplifies the quality staff in our schools and their ongoing commitment to doing what is best for the students of this district," Teater said.

There were no threats of work stoppages, no public posturing, no sensational headlines or sound bites. The parties involved reached the agreements quietly, professionally and responsibly.

The school district employees deserve credit for recognizing the impact of the economy on the education system and for exhibiting good faith in their negotiations with district officials. This is one instance when everyone involved can honestly say the interests of the district's students came first. It's a standard other school district should strive to achieve.