By Susan Tebben
Staff and school-district officials said goodbye to Woodside Elementary while addressing public issues of bullying and teachers contracts.
Woodside Elementary is one of the schools that no longer will be used by the district when construction of the new buildings is complete and the elementary schools are consolidated.
Superintendent Vincent Colaluca, board members Dr. Tom Stellers and Dave Schnurrenberger and Timothy Kelty, former principal at Woodside, all said their goodbyes. Stellers and Colaluca talked about their time as students there as well.
The Austintown Board of Education on Tuesday also heard from Barb Tomic, teachers union president, who spoke about negotiations. The teachers’ contract expired, and the union has been in negotiations with the district since August 2012, Tomic said.
“We are still continuing to work under an expired contract,” Tomic told the board and audience. “I am confident the association will continue to bargain in good faith with the district.”
The teachers instituted a “work to rule” plan in January, under which the teachers only work the hours and duties explicitly defined in their previous contract.
Colaluca said the negotiations are going well and that the district can only work with the funds it has while under continuing budget cuts from the state and federal governments.
In other business, a parent also brought up bullying and the safety of district children. She said her children have been bullied to a degree that is causing her to consider pulling them out of Austintown Middle School and Lynn Kirk Elementary to homeschool them. She also questioned the security of the students.
“We have to fill out a form saying who can pick up our children from school,” Stacy Huff said. “But no one is checking the identification of these people who are picking up the kids.”
Bullying and safety issues come down to the individual schools, Colaluca said.
“The first thing I’ll do is meet with the principals,” Colaluca said. “There’s always two sides to the story, and it’s got to go back to the school level.”
Educational programs are in place for students to learn about the effects of bullying, and the district has been at the forefront of dealing with the topic, he said.