By Denise Dick
The president of the city teachers’ union cautioned members to prepare for layoffs and advised some to begin looking for new jobs.
“The board will be changing the posting dates and the method of posting” for positions, Will Bagnola, president of the Youngstown Education Association, wrote in an email last week to the membership. “The board will not be honoring seniority in filling vacancies and assigning YEA members; board-action on a RIF [reduction in force] will not be done by April 30th; and, our class sizes will be increasing.”
Though the school board last week renewed the contracts for several union members on limited contracts, that doesn’t mean those members’ jobs are secure, the union president warned in the email.
“A word of caution: because one was renewed and has a contract for next school year does not mean that that contract cannot be suspended!” he wrote. “In other words, there is going to be a RIF, and teachers on limited contracts are the first to be laid-off. Don’t be passive and wait for the RIF; LOOK FOR ANOTHER JOB, NOW!”
Superintendent Connie Hath-orn said class size will increase from a 15-1 student-teacher ratio in kindergarten and first grade to an 18-1 ratio.
For second through 12th grades, it will increase from 24 or 25-1 to 27-1.
Hathorn met last week with Bagnola and an Ohio Education Association representative.
Bagnola said that RIFs weren’t discussed specifically, but they are expected.
“If you lose 400 students, how do you not lose staff?” he said.
The district lost those students — and about $4 million in state funding that goes with them — to charter schools, open enrollment and other educational options.
Hathorn said that any RIFs that may occur will be done based on seniority. But assignments and vacancies will be filled based on the best person for the job rather than seniority, he said.
Job postings will be done through the district’s website to make things more efficient, the superintendent said.
Recommendations for cuts required because of the loss of the $4 million in state money may come at tonight’s school board meeting.
Last year, the city schools academic-distress commission approved several resolutions restoring management rights to the district.
The district and YEA reached a memorandum of understanding establishing the procedures to be followed if the district decides to exercise rights it believes were restored.
First, it allows YEA to challenge the district on whether the rights it wishes to exercise were restored to it. It provides a method to determine if there are effects to YEA members of the district’s exercise of its restored rights and provides a method to bargain the effects of the district’s decision.
YEA agrees that the management rights it wants to exercise were restored by the ADC, Bagnola’s email says.
“We also believe that there will be effects to our wages, hours or terms and conditions of employment created by the board’s exercise of its restored rights, and we believe that those effects must be bargained with us.” the email says. “Management does not believe that effects-bargaining is necessary in its exercise of these restored rights, except over reduction in force and recall.”
The next step is to request mediation through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
“YEA will continue to fight so that the effects on the terms and conditions of our employment of those actions of the board are as fair to us as possible,” Bagnola’s email says.