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Columbus Teachers, School Board Approve New Labor Deal

Columbus Education Association members rallied several times this year. One of their focuses was tax breaks the city gives to developers, but those abatements are not addressed in the new contract.
Nick Evans

The Columbus Board of Education on Monday followed the local teachers union in approving a new contract following months of negotiations.About 73% of the Columbus Education Association members who voted Sunday approved the three-year deal calling for:

  • 3% pay raises each year.
  • Smaller class sizes. In the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, maximum class sizes for kingergarten through third grade would shrink from 29 to 27.
  • Increasing the number of early childhood education teachers by eight by fiscal year 2021.
  • Increasing the number of social workers by 15 by fiscal year 2021.
  • Increasing the number of school nurses by 12 by fiscal year 2021.
  • Creating an "intervention room" in all schools used by students in grades 7-12. The interventions rooms will be used for in-school suspensions as an alternative to out-of-school suspensions.

The contract does not address property tax abatements given to developers, which was the focus of much of the union’s public organizing over the summer. It also does not address teacher health care plans.
The Columbus Board of Education approved the contract unanimously.

"I believe the negotiating teams for both Columbus City Schools and CEA not only negotiated in good faith, but also clearly negotiated with our students' best educational interests top of mind the entire time," Dixon said in an emailed statement.

"This tentative contract is a win for its focus on increasing student achievement; a win for its fair compensation of teachers as educational professionals; and a win for the community seeking oversight and a return on their investment to keep our schools strong," the statement said.

Teachers returned to the classroom last week without a new deal in place. Earlier this month, union negotiators said they'd reached a "conceptual agreement" on the new contract, but refused to release details ahead of the Sunday vote.

CEA members gave union leaders the authority to issue a 10-day strike notice if necessary when negotiations stalled earlier this year. The district then hired a Michigan company to provide strike contingency planning services.

The last time Columbus teachers went out on strike was 1975.