Beginning Nov. 16, teachers in the South-Western City Schools district planned to stop putting in extra time at the schools that is not required as part of their contract.

Beginning Nov. 16, teachers in the South-Western City Schools district planned to stop putting in extra time at the schools that is not required as part of their contract.

The action is being taken in response to a lack of progress on a new labor agreement.

Teachers will confine their activities to the regular school day. Those who have supplemental contracts will fulfill their duties.

Rolla Beach, president of the South-Western Education Association, which represents more than 1,400 teachers and other certified staff, told the school board at its Nov. 15 meeting that many teachers are frustrated by the slowness of contract talks. Teachers have worked without a contract since June 30 and current talks are being handled by a federal mediator.

An estimated 400 teachers, many wearing light blue South-Western Education Association T-shirts and carrying signs reading "Treat Us Fairly" and "South-Western Educators Are United" showed up at the school board meeting at district headquarters. Seventy-five or 80 members squeezed into the standing-room-only board room.

"In recent years, our members have made many sacrifices, not the least of which was, in 2009, to agree to extend their contract an additional year with no increase in base salary," Beach told the board.

The school board earlier approved a five-year financial forecast that includes no base staff salary increases for fiscal year 2011.

Beach said, "This is not a decision we have taken lightly, and it will, quite frankly, be hard to do because our members are so dedicated and accustomed to working seemingly endless hours. ... We would like to resolve the remaining issues and get a fair contract settlement so that we can move forward."

Neither Beach nor superintendent Bill Wise would discuss what issues are sticking points in the negotiations. The groups last met Oct. 19. and no new talks have been set by the mediator.

"To say that there has been significant progress would be an overstatement. We still have significant issues," Wise said prior to the board meeting.

"We're hopeful we can reach an agreement that is fair to all involved. These are very tenuous times with the pending state budget," Wise said. "The economic climate currently is tougher than it's been in the past."

State officials must wrestle with an estimated $8-billion deficit next year in the new two-year state budget and school districts are expected to have funding cut at least 10 percent.

South-Western receives more than $90-million a year in state aid.

Terry Jones, a frequent critic of the school district and head of the anti-levy group South-Western Alternatives to Taxes, criticized Beach and the other teachers, saying they only show up at board meetings when it's contract time.

"I've never seen an attendance like this," said Jones, who in recent years has attended many board meetings. "It's time for the SWEA teachers union to step up and take on the financial burden the rest of the community has had to make."

He urged the school board not to back down to the teachers union and to negotiate a contract that is fair to the community.

After the meeting, Beach declined to respond to Jones' comments. Beach pointed out, however, that teachers are concerned about the community, noting that they organized a food drive to benefit the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.

Many teachers on Nov. 15 brought canned goods and other non-perishable food items for the food drive.

In addition to SWEA, the district currently is in talks with the Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 211, which represents classified workers. A federal mediator has not set any new talks.

No one from that union spoke at the Nov. 15 board meeting, although union leaders have spoken at a previous meeting urging the board to negotiate a fair contract.

Wise said talks with OAPSE have progressed a bit better than with SWEA.

"Talks have been somewhat productive with OAPSE on (contract) language issues," Wise said. He declined to elaborate.

The board also:

Reappointing Lisa Leasure to a new seven-year term on the Southwest Public Libraries board of trustees.

School board member Karen Dover questioned whether the school board should adopt formal protocol or policy when appointing members to the library board so that others interested in the post could have an opportunity to be appointed.

Other board members pointed out that the seven-member library board unanimously recommended Leasure for reappointment to the non-paid post. They also noted that when vacancies occur on the library board, qualified applicants are sought to fill the position.

Approved buying 11 new buses, at about $77,000 each, from Center City International/IC Corp.