Despite the involvement of a federal mediator, teachers and school district officials are still without a new labor agreement in Ross Schools. The Butler County school system, which is one of the top academic performers in southwest Ohio, recently saw its teachers reject the latest offer by the district. (File Photo/Journal-News)

Ross teachers reject latest contract offer, but talks continue

The school system, which is one of the top academic performers in southwest Ohio, recently saw its teachers reject the latest offer by the district.

The vote among the 175 members of the Ross Education Association wasn’t close, said Union President Robin Plowman.

“The negotiating team took the (Ross school board’s) offer to the general membership for a vote to ratify the offer. The teachers unanimously voted down the board’s offer,” said Plowman.

The two sides were scheduled to meet again today to negotiate a one-year deal, ending the current three-year contract for teachers.

MORE: Ross Schools teacher union official said contract talks at an impasse

“The board has agreed to come back to the table on Friday, and we are very hopeful we can get a tentative agreement,” she said.

Those concerned about the labor negotiations shouldn’t be overly worried, said Steve Castator, director of pupil personnel.

“Labor negotiations can be a divisive time for a school and community. We realize that emotions run high as rumors swirl about what may or may not be happening during the process,” said Castator.

Castator sent a message to school families. It read that “the negotiating teams have met for only 2.5 days over the last three months, and because negotiations are ongoing, we can’t disclose specifics at this time.

“We can say that we’re committed to finalizing an agreement with the REA as soon as possible, and we look forward to being at the bargaining table with them again.

“Our teaching staff is full of hardworking, talented professionals who deserve fair pay. We’re committed to reaching an agreement that recognizes that fact, while also being mindful of the district’s short and long-term finances, and how your tax dollars are being spent.

“We would like to remind everyone that we have yet to collect any money from the May 2019 Earned Income Tax increase that our community passed. We’ll receive a prorated portion from that levy in 2020 but won’t receive the full amount until 2021.

“This fact is important because the current negotiations are just for this school year. We will be embarking on full negotiations in February 2020 for a multi-year agreement with the REA.

“It’s imperative that we keep the big picture in mind when negotiating the agreement for this year, as we’ll be negotiating teacher compensation again for a longer period of time (the next 2-3 year contract) in a few short months.

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