City teachers, district ratify one-year deal

Contract includes 3% raises, removal of HB70 language

Staff photo / Dan Pompili Students mill around Chaney Middle School Monday afternoon after the first official day of school after a nearly four-week strike by the teachers union. A tentative one-year agreement between the Youngstown Education Association and Youngstown Board of Education reached Saturday was officially ratified by both parties Monday afternoon.

YOUNGSTOWN — At 6 p.m. Monday evening, hoots and clapping could be heard from inside the Mill Creek Community Center.

Four weeks to the day since the Youngstown Education Association voted “overhwelmingly” to strike, the same union voted in the same fashion to end the strike and ratify a new one-year contract with the Youngstown City School District.

Teachers had been on strike since the school year began on Aug. 23, but returned to class Monday after a tentative agreement was reached on Saturday.

“Everybody seems very happy to have new contract, we don’t have to worry about it anymore,” YEA spokesman Jim Courim said. “We can go back to educating the students of Youngstown and helping kids reach their fullest potential.”

As the union voted, the YCSD Board of Education also met at 5 p.m. to approve the new agreement.

In a statement issued Monday evening, Superintendent Jeremy Batchelor said, “Although we all would have liked to reach agreement on a new contract and end the strike quickly, our team had to balance the contract demands from the YEA against the long-term impact that such changes would have not only on our current scholars, but also on our future scholars, boards and administrators. We could not simply lose all control over the district and management decisions just to end the current strike; nor could we spend more money than we have to end the current strike.”

Courim said more than 99 percent of the union’s approximately 450 members voted to approve the new deal. He said in the end, the union achieved all its objectives for the contract.

“We wanted all HB70 language, that section 3011, gone. We asked for a 3 percent wage increase, and we wanted a one-year contract, and we got all three,” he said.

He said he’s not worried about the district facing another strike when contract talks come up again next year.

“I think we’ve shown we are a strong union and we’re a force to be reckoned with,” he said.

While unions usually negotiate for contracts of three or four years, Courim said YEA kept its demands minimal to ensure it would not take too many concessions to get the problematic language removed from the contract.

The language was put into the contract during the state takeover of the district between 2012 and July 2022, and gave the CEO of the state-appointed Academic Distress Commission complete authority over personnel decisions.

The YEA accused the board of misinterpreting that language to give Superintendent Jeremy Batchelor the same authority, and said that section of the contract has been used to move teachers between buildings or into classes that don’t suit them or the students.

Courim said the new contract put parameters in place to ensure that administration cannot just transfer teachers on a whim, but the union also made concessions on the issue of seniority that “just make sense.”

New language in the contract states that before making a transfer, Batchelor must meet with the YEA president to notify them which vacancy is being designated, and that the designation must be noted on the notice of vacancy.

It also says the superintendent’s “discretion in selecting the applicant to fill the vacancy shall be for reasons that are not arbitrary or capricious.”

For its part, the school district said it also achieved its top three objectives.

In a statement released Monday evening from Batchelor and Board of Education President Tiffany Patterson, the district said it wanted to find a middle ground to “delete and move past the academic distress rights enhancements in the labor contract but still maintain enough flexibility to … assign the most qualified teachers and not just the most senior teacher in key classes and programs.”

The district also sought to ensure sufficient time for teachers to “provide direct interaction and educational opportunities to our scholars, especially in the elementary and middle school levels.”

Lastly, YCSD said it wanted to “enter into a financially responsible agreement that does not impact the ability to provide future services and programs.”

The district said K-8 teachers also are being paid additional wages in exchange for 30 additional minutes of mandatory student interaction time. It said the board also reserved the right to use targeted teacher placement and selection rights for “the most intense classes that require remedial instruction and assistance.”

“For these, the board secured the ability to place the most qualified teacher … where our scholars need it most,” the release states.

The board said this flexibility is critical to its turnaround plan and ensuring that Youngstown City Schools can fully escape state oversight.

Notably, the board also negotiated the fact-finding process back into the contract.

In the first week of the strike, the district sought to end it by filing a complaint with the State Employee Relations Board. The district argued the strike was illegal because YEA had not participated in a fact-finding process generally mandated by the state.

However, SERB found that a section of the YEA contract allowed the union to circumvent that process.

The board said the addition will add more transparency to future negotiations.

The district has not yet stated how the time lost to the strike will affect the school year.


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