Austintown school board takes a break in stalemate

The board had wanted binding arbitration over a stumbling block in getting a contract ratified.



AUSTINTOWN — Negotiators in the Austintown teachers talks can take a break.

The school board decided at a special meeting Thursday to wait until January to determine its next option in the stalemate with the Austintown Education Association over a tentative contract.

Superintendent Doug Heuer said the board considered the AEA membership’s rejection of binding arbitration over a sticking point in the proposed pact.

Teachers want the right to decide how much planning time they need, but the board wants building administrators to schedule it.

The AEA has twice rejected proposals because of the planning time issue, and the board asked union leadership to present a request to the membership for binding arbitration on it. The board wanted the union to ratify the rest of the proposal, which includes a 1 percent raise the first year, no raise the second and an 8.5 percent pickup in health-care premiums.

The membership rejected the request Wednesday. It also authorized its negotiating team to issue a 10-day strike notice if it decides that’s necessary. State law requires teachers unions to give school districts 10 days’ notice before striking.

Heuer said the school board is waiting to decide its next option because teachers begin their holiday break tomorrow.

“The board is taking time to reflect and will reconvene after the first of the year,” he said.

Board President Michael Creatore will be gone in January. He has said he believes the union was stalling to be able to negotiate without him.

Creatore has an acrimonious relationship with the AEA. But he has said that it’s not just him pushing the issue — the board is unanimous in wanting the new planning-period language in the contract.

The Austintown district is the last of 10 districts in talks with teachers this year to settle on a contract.

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