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Ross Schools’ teachers say contract talks at impasse

Negotiations between Ross School officials and the 175-member Ross Education Association representing teachers in the rural school system began in May. But labor pact talks on a one-year re-opener ending the current three-year contract for teachers, are not progressing, said Robin Plowman, president of the Ross teachers’ union. (File Photo/Journal-News)
Negotiations between Ross School officials and the 175-member Ross Education Association representing teachers in the rural school system began in May. But labor pact talks on a one-year re-opener ending the current three-year contract for teachers, are not progressing, said Robin Plowman, president of the Ross teachers’ union. (File Photo/Journal-News)

Teachers at one of Butler County’s most academically successful school districts say their negotiations for a new labor contract have “reached an impasse,” said a teacher union president.

Negotiations between Ross School officials and the 175-member Ross Education Association representing teachers in the rural school system began in May.

But labor pact talks on a one-year re-opener ending the current three-year contract for teachers, are not progressing, said Robin Plowman, president of the Ross teachers’ union.

Both district and teacher union officials met with a federal labor mediator earlier this month but no agreement was reached and another mediated meeting is scheduled for Oct. 24.

“Salary and benefits are the only items being negotiated in the re-opener” negotiations,” said Plowman.

Ross Schools in the last decade has consistently been among the highest-rated districts in Butler County, according to the Ohio Department of Education’s annual report cards.

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In May the district asked local taxpayers to approve a 0.5 percent increase to an existing school income tax, which voters approved by 54 percent to 46 percent.

The .05 percent earned income tax was added on to the existing and permanent .75 percent earned income tax used to help fund the operation of the 2,800-student district.

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“Once the (income tax) passed in May we then began to wait to see what the state of Ohio biennium budget would be for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021,” said Ross Superintendent Scott Gates.

“This delay was a major factor in the progress and pace of negotiations. After the governor signed the budget in late July, we were able to schedule our first face to face meeting in August and then again in early October,” said Gates.

“We were encouraged by progress in the October meeting. We are looking forward to meeting on Oct. 24 and working to find a solution regarding this contract issue,” he said.

Plowman said Ross teachers’ pay and benefits lags other similar school systems that don’t share the districts “excellent scores and reputation.”