By EMMALEE C. TORISK
While the Campbell Board of Education has not rescinded its “last-and-best” contract offer that was implemented July 1, it has agreed to restart negotiations with the Campbell Education Association, the union representing the district’s teachers.
Tom Robey, superintendent, said the purpose of the Tuesday morning meeting is to bring together the board and the 93-member union to resolve their disputes through the federal mediator, who was brought in to assist after both parties declared an impasse in early May.
“We just want things to get back to normal so we can focus on education for students,” Robey said.
Colleen Joss, union spokeswoman, said she’s hopeful the meeting is when contract negotiations, which have been ongoing since mid-March, will resume.
The union’s 10-day strike notice for Aug. 26, the first teacher-report day, however, will remain, particularly since the contract imposed by the board has not been rescinded, Joss said.
The CEA sent the strike notice early Friday to the State Employment Relations Board.
“It’s the first step,” said Joss, referring to next week’s meeting. “I think it is definitely a step in the right direction, but while that contract is implemented, the strike notice is still in effect.”
Joss said “so many different issues” have come into play during the past few months of negotiations, some of them financial. For example, the school district recently received a letter from the Ohio Department of Education concerning a projected financial deficit for the coming fiscal year.
The union, though, is simply hoping for “some shared sacrifice between administration and teachers,” Joss said.
She added that one point of contention involves the district’s considering paying two superintendents: Robey and Matthew Bowen, his replacement, whose contract goes into effect Aug. 1.
Robey said his contract runs through July 2014, but that the board could modify it, if it approves his repositioning as a part-time district consultant. His contract will be discussed at a special board meeting July 29.
“It’s part of a transition plan that was put together with the board,” Robey said. “It relates to the fact that we have a retirement of a number of administrators this year.”
Joss said the union is questioning why a district that claims to have some financial woes would “offer on-the-job training for a superintendent.”
“I believe that the CEA is questioning the board’s ability and willingness to pay for a consultant to the superintendent — or, rather, two superintendents — when they have stated that the finances are a matter of question at this point,” she said.
Robey declined to address any specific sticking points during negotiations, explaining that the board “will work with the mediator to resolve those issues,” while Joss said the union is hopeful that the upcoming negotiations are fruitful.
“There’s still plenty of time to work out a fair contract before the upcoming school year begins,” she said.