The Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education has been in talks with the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association and the Ohio Association of Public Employees about health-care benefits and a need to address existing and projected shortfalls in funding.

As a result of a collaborative, candid dialogue, the board has reached tentative agreements with GJEA and OAPSE, according to Superintendent Steve Barrett. He said OAPSE, which represents the district's full-time and regular part-time bus drivers, ratified the agreement May 7, and GJEA, representing the teachers, was scheduled to vote May 8.

The agreement includes no increase on base pay for the 2018-19 school year and increased premium contributions and deductibles for all employees on health care. Specific details were not available as of press time.

"We are deeply grateful for the collaboration with and partnership of both our unions," Barrett said. "This has resulted in a shared commitment that will help the board close the gap on the district's fiscal challenges and stabilize our finances."

Larry Whatley, president of OAPSE Local 249, said the drivers know the district is experiencing tough financial times.

"We are glad we could come together and establish an agreement that will help the district long term," he said.

GJEA president Jenny Palguta said the association members are pleased they were able again to work with the board in order to show their commitment to the community.

"Teachers were willing to take shared responsibility and sacrifice for our future financial stability," she said.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla