East Palestine teachers continue on old contract

EAST PALESTINE – East Palestine teachers have begun the new school year on an old contract.

The classified union went back to school Aug. 26 in the midst of negotiating for a new contract and those negotiations are ongoing. Until a new contract is reached staff members are earning the same wages and benefits set out in their last two-year contract.

That contract included a base wage freeze and 10 percent contribution on health care. Negotiations for a new contract began in May.

Education Association President Cindy McKinstry said the union is trying to keep the best interest of the students in mind and a strike is not even on the table.

“There have been no threats to strike. Strikes aren’t in the best interest of the kids,” she said.

The last threat to strike was about six years ago and although close, did not happen, she added.

The union has negotiated twice with the administration using a mediator. McKinstry and teacher Wendy Boyles said the administration has been “very good” about working with them and the committee that was set up in September of 2012.

The committee consists of two to three teachers from each school building, the principals and Superintendent George Fisk.

Boyles serves on the committee.

“We have been working very hard with the administration trying to do what is best for everyone, mainly the kids,” she said.

She and McKinstry did not wish to disclose what was causing the delay but indicated negotiations include discussions about state changes to teaching evaluations.

Under the new system teachers will be evaluated by their performance through classroom observations and student academic growth. Both are weighted at 50 percent.

“There has been a lot of legislation that districts have to work through,” McKinstry said.

In other business, the East Palestine Board of Education approved the following during the Monday meeting:

– The resignation of Marlea Hacker, bus driver, effective Aug. 23.

– A one-year limited contract for Kandace Snyder Best, middle school science, and a one-year classified contract for Erica Seeger, two-hour aide at the elementary school.

– Supplemental contracts for Liz Sherry, Amy Babik, Lindsay Wollet, Abi Urmson, Brenna Davis, Donna Thornton and Anne Marie Velchek as class co-advisers and Dan McKinstry as head softball coach.

– Cheryl Byrd, middle school cheerleading volunteer and Travis Foster, high school football volunteer.

– Nineteen people as athletic department employees for the school year.

– Jill McGee, Laura Habarka, Scot McClelland, Kim Best, Jessica Cavanaugh, Rachel Carr, Lori Noles, Brittany Anderson, Cassie Oles, Daniel Conway, Aryn Hissom, Beth Ehrenberg and Cynthia Hetherington as substitute teachers, Sherill Jones as substitute nurse, Ron Dunn as substitute custodian and Michelle Elliot as substitute aide.

– Nine open enrollment students. Six are from Beaver Local and three are from Crestview.

– An agreement with the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities to provide educational services for students.

– Marcel Castro Ollo of Barcelona, Spain as Rotary Exchange Student.

– Increasing the amount paid to East Palestine police working extra-curricular events from $60 to $75.

– Bryn McElroy as the new student board member.