CEA Members Ratify Two-Year Contract

2009genmemmtgMore than 1,200 members of the Columbus Education Association converged on Veteran’s Memorial on Tuesday, June 2, to consider the two-year tentative agreement between the CEA and the Columbus Board of Education. After the introduction of local dignitaries, gathered members were welcomed by CEA President Rhonda Johnson.

“We are living in uncertain economic times,” said President Johnson. “Compared to when Issue 75 passed in November at 7.85 mils, fewer people are paying property taxes. This reduces the effective amount that the levy collects.” “Despite the passage of the levy and the federal stimulus money,” continued Johnson, “the treasurer would only certify a two-year contract.”

“Your bargaining team has worked long and hard to bring you the package that you see before you,” stated Negotiations Chair Deborah Huffman-Mirib.

“I got worried as I saw the economy happen,” said Chief Negotiator Rick Logan. “This round of bargaining was some of the hardest work from the core team since CEA’s first contract in 1969.

Among the items included in the package:

  • Clear and grieveable expectations of elementary grade-card access and entry.
  • Duty-free periods for elementary Senior Faculty Representatives
  • Additional professional development related to special education
  • Increased days for adoptive leave
  • Expansion of catastrophic sick leave provisions
  • Preservation of insurance benefits for current members
  • Addition of domestic partners for primary coverage under insurance and use of sick leave
  • Elimination of the Comprehensive Major Medical plan and the addition of the “single plus one” premium tier
  • Use of teacher-level value-added data as one factor in determining teacher eligibility for the Performance Advancement System (PAS)
  • A $4,000 stipend for eligible teachers who elect to serve at the superintendent’s discretion in “high-needs” schools
  • Addition of step 15 to the salary schedule and index changes in longevity steps
  • A 1.75 percent raise in the first year, and a 2 percent raise in the second year of the contract

After questions and debates, 89 percent of members voted resoundingly to ratify the tentative agreement. The Columbus Board of Education is scheduled to take its vote at a later date.

Performance Pay Not News To Us

The Columbus Education Association has been a leader in school reform at the local, state and national level for many years. Performance pay may be a buzz word now, but it is nothing new to the members of CEA.

Over the past decade, CEA has negotiated multiple performance pay programs. In 1997, CEA negotiated the Gainsharing program and, later, the Performance Advancement System (PAS). Nearly $2 million was awarded to teachers for improved student achievement for the 2007-2008 school year.

Gainsharing is a method of distributing funds for improved education and student achievement in Columbus City Schools. Teachers assigned to buildings for at least 120 days are eligible to receive a bonus if the school makes Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Teachers who do not work full time in a building may participate in Gainsharing though service agreements.

PAS is a program for all members of the CEA bargaining unit to engage in classroom action research. If teachers’ projects post mean student achievement gains greater than the district, CEA members will receive cash awards of $2,500 for meeting the PAS gain criteria.

In recent years, the district adopted the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) in eight schools. TAP is a comprehensive school reform system that restructures and revitalizes the teaching profession with a goal of achieving measurable gains in student performance. Teachers received bonuses ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars for knowledge and skills and student growth in the 2007-2008 school year. The master and mentor teachers also received a stipend for extra duties and responsibilities.

Our 114 National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) receive a $1,500 annual stipend from CCS, above and beyond the state stipend. At the Superintendent’s sole discretion, teachers who agree to work in high-needs schools can receive an additional stipend.

Any system that involves alternative pay should meet the “APPLE criteria” developed by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Systems must be administratively feasible, professionally acceptable, publicly credible, legally defensible and economically affordable.

“This is a time for innovation and opportunity in the field of education,” stated CEA President Rhonda Johnson. “I am proud to be a member of an organization that has always been on the cutting edge of school reform.”