New Albany News

Projected deficit leads to one-year deal with OAPSE

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The New Albany-Plain Local school board last week approved a one-year contract with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, which represents the district's bus drivers, cafeteria workers and custodians.

The agreement includes no base salary increases and a provision to cap any increase in insurance rates at 9 percent.

Treasurer Rebecca Jenkins said the contract, which the board unanimously approved April 28, could be signed only for one year because the district's five-year forecast projects a deficit in fiscal year 2016.

The district cannot approve a contract that includes years with a potential financial deficit, she said.

The contract is similar to the one the board approved on March 31 for the Plain Local Education Association, which represents the district's teachers.

Both contracts were negotiated using "interest-based bargaining" and both include a preamble referring to "reinventing education," which is part of the district's vision.

According to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service website, interest-based bargaining "may offer parties more flexibility than traditional bargaining, not locking them into predetermined issues and bargaining positions.

"Instead, the process begins with understanding the problem and identifying the interests that underlie each side's issues and positions."

The new contract also:

* Changes the employee probationary period from 90 days to one year from the first day of work.

* Updates the section on "reductions in the work force" to align with the Ohio Revised Code and changes an employee's timeline to accept or reject being recalled from 15 days to two days.

* Changes personal-leave requests, requiring 15 days of notice instead of 24 hours of notice, unless there is an emergency.

* Eliminates the rollover of personal days, adding any days carried into the following year to be designated as sick leave.

* Establishes the field-trip pay rate at $17 per hour.

District spokesman Patrick Gallaway said the district has more than 200 employees who are not teachers. That includes: 57 in food service; 45 bus drivers and three mechanics and mechanic techs; 31 in the custodial department; nine maintenance and grounds workers; 15 secretaries; and 43 educational assistants.

He could not confirm if all are members of OAPSE.

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