CEA president looks to rebuild bridges with Canfield community

CEA president looks to rebuild bridges with Canfield community

I am the new president of the Canfield Education Association, the union representing over 180 teachers within the Canfield Local School District. The goal of this letter is to introduce myself and to re-open the lines of communication between parents and teachers in the Canfield community.

I understand that some people feel that I am over-paid for teaching world history at Canfield High School. However, I feel that I am fairly compensated based on my education level (bachelor’s and master’s degrees) and the responsibility that I am entrusted with: educating our youth in the community of Canfield. However, is this disagreement about teachers’ salaries the only reason for the lack of communication between teachers and parents?

I am not blaming the parents and voters of the Canfield School District for starting this disconnect on how education is funded and delivered; that is more of a policy debate in Columbus or Washington, D.C. However, I am concerned about the nature of the discourse. In a time when there are so many ways to communicate, I feel that neither side is not doing a very good job talking about the tough issues. And difficult issues do exist.

If you would like to see the salaries of all government employees in Ohio, feel free to visit the state treasurer’s website at http://tos.ohio.gov/. This is an effort by Treasurer Mandel to create a culture of transparency in Ohio, and I agree with this movement.

Growing up in the Mahoning Valley, I can appreciate the values that all of our parents, teachers, and coaches have instilled in us. I know that the people of the Mahoning Valley work very hard for a living. It is in our genetics.

As a father, a teacher, and a coach, my goal is to inspire our young people to strive to be the best they can be in our society. Furthermore, I feel a tremendous sense of pride in the Mahoning Valley even though sometimes it seems as if the deck is stacked against us.

I have been a teacher for 12 years, and I am happy to say that I have many friends in Canfield. However, last year I found myself in awkward conversations with friends who did not support our school levy. Why does it have to feel so uncomfortable? As taxpayers, you should have every right to honestly ask tough questions about our performance as long as you can honesty listen to our response. On the other hand, we should be able to do the same.

I am proud of our Board of Education for listening to the taxpayers and lowering the upcoming November levy to 4.9 mills. The rate will be significantly reduced because of accelerated payments. For every $100,000 in property value, the amount would be as follows: in 2012 $104.16 per year ($8.68 per month) and from 2013-16 $73.56 per year ($6.13 per month).

The employees in our district heard you loudly and clearly as well. After the May defeat, all three local unions worked together with the board of education to restructure our contracts and save the district almost $2 million over the next three years.

CEA has secured an e-mail address for community members to send questions regarding teachers. We welcome your questions at: Canfieldteachers@sbcglobal.net.

This is a sincere way to discuss issues and re-open the lines of communication between the CEA and our community. I do respect your opinion enough to truly ask for it.

Dean Conley, Canfield