Olentangy Valley News

Olentangy teachers get extra year, raise

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Olentangy teachers will receive a 2-percent raise in 2015-16 under a one-year contract extension approved by the school board last week.

Board members voted 3-0 at their meeting July 9 to extend the district's contract with the Olentangy Teachers Association, with board member Adam White absent and newly appointed member Roger Bartz abstaining.

Board President Kevin O'Brien said the short-term agreement allows the district to see if its efforts to secure more funding from the state are fruitful before signing off on a long-term deal.

The only difference between the one-year contract extension and the three-year deal approved in May 2012 is the 2-percent raise. The original deal gave teachers a 1-percent raise in 2012-13 and 0.5-percent raises in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Teachers did not receive a raise during the 2011-12 school year.

"Over the last five years, the average is a 0.8-percent increase," O'Brien said. "We think that's very competitive."

The extension will increase the pay range for teachers in the district to $38,566-$99,000 in 2015-16, according to the district.

In a statement, teachers association President Elaine Eddy said the agreement shows the union is willing to compromise for the good of the community.

"This agreement is a reflection of our partnership and the work that has resulted in Olentangy consistently being ranked among the best school districts in the state," she said.

The extension keeps in place changes to health-insurance plans and other benefits that district officials credited for millions in savings over the first three years of the contract.

That contract gave district teachers two health-insurance options: the traditional plan with higher out-of-pocket expenses and a high-deductible plan that included a health savings account.

O'Brien said the board would examine "the whole benefit plan" for its teachers for potential cost-savings before agreeing to a long-term deal.

"I'd like to see us on a path of cost containment with these insurance packages," he said.

The extension agreement comes as district officials and parents continue to lobby state legislators for more per-pupil funding. State law currently caps the wealthy, growing district at slightly more than $400 per student, while private charter schools receive $1,089 per student.

O'Brien said the extension gives the district more time to try to get its per-pupil funding raised to $1,089 or beyond.

"What this one-year (extension) does is, it gets us another year to get through another state budget cycle," he said.

If the legislature does not act to increase the district's funding, O'Brien said district voters likely will face a levy request within the next few years.

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