When Westerville school district employees headed back to classrooms, cafeterias, offices, maintenance facilities and bus garages Aug. 25, they did so without new contracts.

When Westerville school district employees headed back to classrooms, cafeterias, offices, maintenance facilities and bus garages Aug. 25, they did so without new contracts.

Contracts with three of Westerville's four unions OAPSE Local 138, OAPSE Local 719 and the Westerville Educational Support Staff Association expired June 30, and new agreements have not been reached.

The 480 employees represented by those unions, which include custodians, bus drivers, food-service employees, secretaries, educational aides, maintenance workers and mechanics, are continuing to work under the expired contract.

The one-year contract agreed upon last year by the Westerville Education Association, which represents 1,026 teachers, expires Aug. 31. As of ThisWeek's press deadline on Tuesday, no meetings of the Westerville school board had been set to approve a contract before that date.

Without new contracts in place, employees will work under terms of the old contracts unless they were to decide otherwise, said district spokesman Greg Viebranz.

Representatives from the district and OAPSE Local 719 told ThisWeek in July that they expected to wrap up negotiations at a July 20 meeting.

At that time, human resources executive director Curt Jackowski, who is in charge of negotiations for the administration along with Assistant Superintendent Mark Hershiser, said officials expected to have a contract with the Westerville Education Association in place by the start of the school year.

Westerville teachers and the district agreed on a one-year contract last August that froze base salaries for teachers, though some still got raises through step increases.

The district would not comment on the continuing negotiations, except to release a statement expressing optimism that agreements will be reached with the four unions and acknowledging that agreements would not be in place before the start of the school year.

"At this stage of the process, we cannot offer speculation as to when agreements will be reached and negotiations will conclude," the statement read. "We will proceed with the opening of the 2010-11 school year as planned and will continue the negotiations process with all four bargaining units. Our intent has always been to come to an agreement with the unions, and our doors remain open for talks to continue."

Representatives from four unions did not return several messages requesting comment.