Lakota teachers get raises as part of new labor pact

The teachers in Southwest Ohio’s largest suburban school system will see their pay increase in each of the next three years under a recently approved Lakota Schools’ labor contract.

The contract with the 960-member Lakota Education Association was approved by a 3-1 vote by the Lakota school board with member Lynda O’Connor voting “no” and member Brad Lovell abstaining because his wife works for the district.

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Teachers in the 16,500-student will receive across-the-board raises of more than 3 percent into the 2020-2021 school year.

And the teachers’ union negotiated no increase in the percentage instructors will have to pay for their health benefits as it will remain 15 percent, with the school district covering the remaining 85 percent.

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Negotiations for a new labor contract began in February. The old contract ran through the end of June.

The average teacher salary in Lakota Schools is $71,000.

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Individual “step” increases in salary are separate from the union labor agreement and are tied to a teacher’s level of experience, education, state instructional certification and subject taught.

LEA President Sharon Mays said that the agreement is a step in the right direction toward additional student opportunities.

“Great teachers make a difference in the education of a child, and we have great teachers at Lakota,” said Mays in a released statement.

Lakota Board of Education President Julie Shaffer echoed Mays, saying the new contract is about more than giving teachers raises.

“This new agreement provides the flexibility to expand the student experience for our kindergarten-6 grades by introducing consistent classes in subjects such as music, art, physical education, STEAM, health and wellness and technology,” Shaffer said.

Lakota Schools Superintendent Matt Miller said the current school year was about improving the K-8th grade offerings for students and a new contract now allows the district to focus on making progress in the district’s two high schools and their feeder freshman schools in West Chester and Liberty townships.

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“We want our high school students to identify at least one path of the three E’s after graduation - enrollment in higher education, enlistment in the military or employment,” said Miller.

Miller, who is finishing his first year as superintendent for Ohio’s eighth largest school system, said district leaders and educators will work to provide a more robust student experience to prepare for life after graduation.

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