Olentangy Valley News

Custodians, maintenance workers get extra year, raise

One-year contract extension for Olentangy workers mimics deal offered to teachers in July, including 2 percent pay hike

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Less than a month after the district approved a contract extension and raise for its teachers, Olentangy's school board gave its nod to a similar deal for custodians and maintenance workers.

The board voted July 9 to extend the district's contract with the Olentangy Teachers Association for a year, through the end of the 2015-16 school year.

The only change in the contract was a 2 percent raise for teachers for that year.

At its meeting last Thursday, Aug. 7, the board approved a one-year extension with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees/American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. That deal also guaranteed a 2 percent raise in 2015-16.

Superintendent Wade Lucas said the 2 percent raises for the custodial and maintenance workers, as well as the teachers, keep Olentangy "very competitive" compared to what surrounding districts are offering.

The contract extension affects 130 custodial and maintenance employees, officials said. As with the contract with the teachers association, the agreement with OAPSE/ AFSCME extends the contract through 2015-16.

Board President Kevin O'Brien said it's common practice for the board to reach an agreement with its teachers, then negotiate similar deals with its other employee unions.

"Typically, we'll do the largest contract first, then we'll go into discussions with the smaller groups," he said.

The short-term extensions allow the district to see if its efforts to lobby the state government for more funding turn out to be successful and adjust appropriately.

The state currently caps the wealthy, growing district at slightly more than $400 in per-student funding, while private charter schools receive $1,089 per student.

Olentangy officials have been lobbying the state legislature to raise the district's funding to at least $1,089 per pupil to put it on par with charter schools.

Increased funding from the state would influence future contracts with employee unions and likely delay the need for a new operating levy.

Similar to the teachers' contract, the extension with the custodial workers also keeps changes to employee insurance plans in place. These included an optional high-deductible plan and increased out-of-pocket costs for the district's traditional plan.

Lucas said he was pleased with the efforts of the district's employees to help contain expenses.

"Everyone ... in the entire organization has done a tremendous job holding costs (down)," he said.

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