Hello, my name is John Coneglio and I am the President of the Columbus Education Association. Tonight, CEA members voted overwhelmingly by secret ballot to approve a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with Columbus City Schools. This agreement is the culmination of over one hundred hours of bargaining dating back to April, and preparations that began months earlier. The new contract will impact the working conditions of the more than 4,000 members of the Columbus Education Association and the learning conditions of more than 50,000 CCS students.
From the beginning, our campaign for the Schools Columbus Students Deserve was built on a platform of six major components; including reduced class sizes and caseloads, adequate staffing of student support professionals, dedicated space for art, music, and P.E., expanding alternative programs for discipline, reducing turnover by compensating educators as professionals, and funding schools and saving taxpayers money by ending handouts for wealthy corporations that don’t need them.
I am extremely proud to report that our new contract makes progress in nearly every one of these areas; Included in the terms of this agreement are the first reductions in class size cap for grades K through 3 in 25 years. Included in this contract are 60 additional CEA student support professional positions including school nurses, social workers, and social emotional learning practitioners. Included in this contract is new language requiring educator input before an art or music room is repurposed. Included in this agreement is a commitment for each building with any combination of grades 7 through 12 to provide space and staffing for a trauma-informed in-school discipline program as an alternative to out-of-school suspension. Included in this agreement are raises for all of our dedicated educators in each year of the contract as well as the first ever parental leave for non-birth parents.
This agreement represents a huge, tangible step forward for our students, educators, and community. However, our fight for the Schools Columbus Students Deserve continues. The board rejected all CEA proposals regarding tax abatements for wealthy corporations who don’t need them. The fact that this school board was unwilling to tackle this issue at the bargaining table does not mean that the issue goes away, simply that we will work alongside our allies in the political arena and other venues to hold our elected officials accountable. It is our duty to ensure that politicians put the needs of our students ahead of corporate welfare for the wealthiest.
While we have work to do, we are very proud of what our bargaining team, members, labor, and community allies accomplished together. We look forward to the new school year, implementation of our new agreement following school board ratification, and continuing to fight for the schools Columbus Students Deserve.