Youngstown teachers don’t believe raise without strings attached


By Amanda Tonoli

atonoli@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Youngstown City School District teachers expressed disbelief about a 7 percent raise offer by district CEO Krish Mohip.

The raise, proposed by Mohip through a collective bargaining agreement, is 5 percent on top of the 2 percent teachers already are guaranteed by their successor contract effective July 1, 2016.

Several teachers told The Vindicator on Thursday that they either don’t believe it or they are waiting until Youngstown Education Association President Larry Ellis talks with them Monday.

Despite other teachers’ distrust, Victor Arcenio, computer science and English as a Second Language teacher at East High School, said he would be a fool to turn down a 7 percent raise.

“Of course we are all dedicated to educating first. More money might help some teachers in this district work a little harder – it will motivate us,” Arcenio said,

In the offer from May 4, Mohip wrote: “I ask for nothing in return for this increase except continued hard work and dedication.”

But Ellis rejected the offer Wednesday, saying that to allow Mohip to reopen the collective bargaining agreement poses “significant risk” to teachers and students.

Retention also is something Mohip is trying to accomplish, district spokeswoman Denise Dick said.

Mohip wrote to Ellis on May 4: “This teacher attrition rate is unhealthy and needs to turn around in order for our students to achieve.”

That pitch appealed to Arcenio.

“Years ago, Youngstown had the highest salaries and retained the best teachers in the area,” he said. “Maybe higher salaries will make it so good teachers won’t go to other schools.”

In an email responding to Ellis’ rejection, Mohip said: “I have tried to work with you, but you’ve chosen not to collaborate, so, after consulting with the chairperson of the academic distress commission, I have decided to reopen the ... Successor Collective Bargaining Agreement for the purpose of negotiating its terms.”

He listed several days that he is available to meet.

Ellis was not available to comment, but emailed the following message to Mohip on Thursday afternoon: “The Youngstown Education Association is in receipt of your most recent communication regarding our collective bargaining agreement,” Ellis wrote. “We will be reviewing the document and respond formally on Monday, May 15.”

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