Chesy teachers work without contract

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 14, 2004

CHESAPEAKE - While students in the Chesapeake school district

returned to the the three "Rs" last month, their teachers are eager to return to the bargaining table and hammer out a contract with the school board. Without an agreement, teachers said a strike is a "good possibility."

The contract between the district and the Chesapeake Local Teachers Association expired June 30. The major sticking point is pay raises. The board has proposed a one-time, 2-percent bonus; the teachers' association rejected the idea, since it would not add to teachers' retirement.

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Sam Hall, Chesapeake superintendent,

said while the district is not broke or in financial crisis, it is imperative administrators keep close watch on the budget to avoid troubles in the future. He said much of the money the district has is earmarked by the state for other purposes and cannot be spent on salaries.

"If we felt comfortable that we had the money we don't care to give raises," Hall said. "We don't want to shortchange the district by giving raises we can't afford and in the end, shortchange the students."

Dana Edwards, spokesperson for the teachers association, said an Ohio Education Association financial analysis showed the district had monies that could be spent on salaries. Edwards said even a small raises would be preferable to the bonus that was proposed.

"If they came back with a reasonable offer, in my opinion and this is only my opinion, I think people would be happy," Edwards said. "But the bonus is almost like a slap in the face."

Edwards said Chesapeake teachers are aware that teachers in other districts in the county have received pay raises from their boards, and that was one reason they overwhelmingly voted against the bonus when it was offered late last month.

"We hope we can get this thing settled. It creates all kinds of problems for the community. I just want to see it settled

and go on. It's not that big a deal."

The association represents 87 Chesapeake certified personnel. The last time teachers began a school year without a contract was 2001.