Teaching Profession

Teachers’ Union Sacrifices Raises to Help Strapped District

By Catherine Gewertz — March 03, 2004 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Principals, teachers, and other school employees in a small Ohio district have agreed to a pay freeze to help their financially struggling system stay afloat.

In the wake of two failed attempts in 2003 to raise money through property-tax levies, the union that represents teachers and support-staff workers in the Newbury Local school district decided last month to forgo a pay hike for the 2004-05 school year.

“We’re being realistic. There is simply no money,” said Joe Kuchta, a social studies teacher at Newbury High School and the president of the Newbury Education Association. The union represents 80 teachers, bus drivers, secretaries, and custodians in the 772-student district southeast of Cleveland.

The three-year union contract specifies a 4 percent pay raise for the 2002-03 and 2003-04 school years, and a raise for 2004-05 that was to be determined through negotiation by the end of this month, said Mr. Kuchta.

But the National Education Association affiliate decided not to seek that raise because the district faced a second round of budget cuts after the second of last year’s tax-levy proposals was defeated in November.

“We couldn’t in good faith go into negotiations with a 4 percent offer,” Mr. Kuchta said last week. “There isn’t even 1 percent.”

Downsizing

Newbury cut its $6 million operating budget for 2003-04 by about $600,000 after voters defeated the first levy proposal last May, said Stephanie Swain, the district’s interim treasurer. Three teaching positions that became vacant were not refilled, two were cut down to half time, and services in nursing, psychology, transportation, and maintenance were reduced.

After voters rejected the next proposed levy in November, the school board outlined another series of cuts for the 2004-05 school year, which would include giving up nine more teaching positions, cutting back more on transportation and supplies, and probably increasing class sizes.

Administrators at the district’s two schools have agreed to a pay freeze this year and next to ease the financial woes. Teachers joined them by giving up their planned pay hike for next year. A 4 percent raise for union members would have cost the district about $100,000, Mr. Kuchta said.

Last summer, the union’s members agreed to downgrade their prescription-drug benefits for 2003-04, saving the district $90,000. Members now pay more than twice what they used to for their prescriptions, he said.

“My hat’s off to the Newbury Education Association for understanding the needs of the district,” said Dick Wagner, the principal of Newbury High School. “We’re all in this together, and they’re doing their part.”

Because of the cutbacks, salary freezes, and benefit changes, the district anticipates staying in the black this school year and next. But without a long-term financial solution, its future viability is still in question, Ms. Swain said.

Ohio’s school funding system has been declared unconstitutional by the state’s highest court, in part because it depends heavily on local property taxes. The high court has directed the legislature to design a more equitable way of funneling money to schools. (“Ohio Court Rejects State School Aid System,” Jan. 8, 2003.)

Newbury residents were to vote this week on another levy, which would generate $800,000 a year for the school district, Ms. Swain said. Even if it is approved, however, the money would not be collected in time to stave off the cuts for 2004-05, she said, so the district would have to go ahead with the reductions or borrow money.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Profession Webinar
How Does Educator Well-Being Impact Social-Emotional Awareness in Schools?
Explore how adult well-being is key to promoting healthy social-emotional behaviors for students. Get strategies to reduce teacher stress.
Content provided by International Baccalaureate
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure Webinar
A New Era In Connected Learning: Security, Accessibility and Affordability for a Future-Ready Classroom
Learn about Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE. Enable students to unlock learning and develop new skills.
Content provided by Microsoft Surface
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Making Technology Work Better in Schools
Join experts for a look at the steps schools are taking (or should take) to improve the use of technology in schools.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion Short On Substitute Teachers? Here's Something States Can Do
Student teachers can make good substitutes, but the rules often don't allow them to step in, write two researchers.
Dan Goldhaber & Sydney Payne
4 min read
Conceptual illustration of a new employee fitting into the workplace puzzle
Sergey Tarasov/iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession In Their Own Words 'I'm Afraid to Return to the Classroom': A Gay Teacher of the Year Speaks Out
Willie Carver, Jr., the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, is questioning his future as a teacher given recent anti-LGBTQ legislative efforts.
8 min read
Montgomery County teacher and Kentucky Teacher of the Year, Willie Carver, in downtown Mt. Sterling, Ky., on May 11, 2022.
Willie Carver is the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year and teaches high school English and French in the Montgomery County, Ky., public schools.
Arden Barnes for Education Week
Teaching Profession Teacher Morale Is at a Low Point. Here's Where Some Are Finding Hope
It’s been a hard few years for teachers. These are the moments with students that are keeping them going.
8 min read
Conceptual Illustration of figure wallpapering blue sky over a dark night
francescoch/iStock via Getty
Teaching Profession Nation's Top Teachers Bask in White House Spotlight
The national and state teachers of the year were honored by the president and first lady in a White House ceremony.
4 min read
First lady Jill Biden hugs 2022 National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell as President Joe Biden applauds during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
First lady Jill Biden hugs 2022 National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell as President Joe Biden applauds during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday.
Susan Walsh/AP