The Westerville City School District now has valid contracts with three of the four unions representing the district's employees.

The Westerville City School District now has valid contracts with three of the four unions representing the district's employees.

The board of education voted Monday, Oct. 25, to approve two-year contracts with the Westerville Educational Support Staff Association (WESSA), which represents secretaries, aides and paraprofessionals, and OAPSE Local 138, which represents custodians, maintenance and food-service workers.

The employees of both unions, who have been working without contracts since June 30, will see base-salary raises of 2.5 percent this year and 1.75 percent next year.

When base salaries increase, it means all of the steps increase with it.

The contracts also were changed to give employees a portion of their pay as a one-time, lump-sum payment of $175 in the first January pay period of each year.

That amount is down from $300 for WESSA employees and from $200 for the OAPSE employees in their last contracts.

The WESSA contract also adds two severance days for employees and states that employees are eligible to receive severance pay equivalent to one-tenth of their daily pay for each unused sick day.

Previously, they were given one day of pay per 13 unused sick days.

The WESSA contract also clarifies work dates for 11-month employees to reflect the earlier start and end times for the next school year.

The contract with OAPSE Local 138 also changes severance pay so that employees are given one day's pay for 10 days of unused sick time.

The contract also changes requirements that employees working in a higher classification must do so for three consecutive days in order to receive the higher wage associated with that position.

That requirement previously was two days.

Following the approval of the two contracts, one union is left without a contract with the district.

OAPSE Local 719, which represents bus drivers and mechanics, has not reached an agreement with the district since negotiations began in June. Local 719 president Dale Grossman expressed his disappointment that an agreement still has not been reached.

Grossman said after the last contentious round of negotiations three years ago, he came before the board of education and vowed that the next round of talks would go more smoothly.

He said he's disappointed to not have been able to uphold that promise.

"Here I am again. I thought I had done (better) and worked with the district," Grossman told the board. "Apparently, I've failed miserably."

The union has negotiating talks scheduled with the district on Nov. 5, and Grossman said he is hopeful that they will walk away from the table with a new contract.

"We're this close. Just keep that in mind," Grossman told the board.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com

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