Urbana BOE places renewal levy on ballot

The Urbana City Schools board on Tuesday voted to place a renewal levy on the November ballot.

The board also approved, 3-1, a new three-year contract with the teachers union.

The school board unanimously approved the second of two resolutions to place the district’s 9.75-mill levy on the Nov. 7 ballot. The board chose to seek a “continuous” instead of a five-year renewal, meaning if approved, voters will not vote on it again.

The 9.75-mill levy generates almost $2.4 million annually, Treasurer Mandy Hildebrand said.

The board has been moving toward continuous levies over the past few years, citing voter fatigue over renewal levies. The board has a 3.5-mill permanent improvement levy and a 14.88-mill operating levy that have been made continuous. The district has a 5.9-mill operating levy that is time-limited still.

“I think this should be done,” Board President Jan Engle said of making the levy continuous. “Why should voters have to renew this every five years, because we will always have to have it. It would take some stress off everybody. It’s something we’ve got to have.”

Engle said he doubts state funding will increase to the point that the levy would no longer be needed.

Teachers contract approved

The board approved a new three-year collective bargaining agreement between the Urbana Board of Education and the Urbana Association of Classroom Teachers (UACT) in a 3-1 vote at the meeting. Board member Tim Lacy abstained; board member Jack Beard voted against the contract.

Beard questioned a new item in the contract dealing with conversion of sick time to be used for completing a child adoption process. He cited an instance with two school employees who did that this year and said he did not approve of adding provisions to address specific employee issues.

Superintendent Charles Thiel did not speak to the specific situation of the employees in the public meeting. He said the administration brought the item forward to discuss in collective bargaining because the prior contract did not clearly address the issue.

“We didn’t enforce this upon anybody. It was a collaborative discussion between the administration and the union’s bargaining representatives. We don’t bargain for individuals,” he said, adding the school board approved motions previously to address these employees’ specific situation. He added, that since the situation was not clearly addressed in the collective bargaining agreement, the board needed to take action so state auditors would not flag the district for an improper payment of leave.

The board approved a Memorandums of Understanding with the teachers union and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) to address the use of available leave for those staff members at a previous board meeting.

UACT Co-Presidents Tim Mackey and Katie deNijs said this area needed clarification for employees in the future.

“We looked at other schools and their contract language,” deNijs told the board. “We looked to make it more consistent across the process. That language seemed reasonable after we investigated.”

The new collective bargaining agreement provides for a 2 percent base salary increase for members in the 2017-18 school year; a 1.75 percent base salary increase for the 2018-19 school year; and a 1.75 percent base increase in the 2019-2020 school year. It also offers a prescription drug card with a $5 increase in copays per category from the prior contract for retail prescriptions and a $10 increase per category for mail order prescriptions.

Approves new teacher contract

By Casey S. Elliott


Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.