Sunday, January 23, 2000

Fact-finder's report status quo

Teachers, schools aren't impressed

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        An independent fact-finder's report that tips in favor of the teachers union in contract negotiations with Cincinnati Public Schools drew lukewarm response from the union's president, who predicted CPS would reject it.

        The report, which was released Friday, “didn't give the superintendent any of the deletions he was seeking, and it didn't really give us any of the contract improvements we were seeking,” said Tom Mooney, president of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers.

        “I'll be very surprised if the superintendent doesn't recommend to the board of education that they reject it.”

        Union leaders are scheduled to meet with members Monday to recommend accepting or rejecting the report. The 38-page document compiled by state-appointed fact-finder Marcus Hart Sandver recommends a compromise on salary increases but urges no changes from the current contract on several issues.

        Mr. Mooney would not say what CFT's recommendation would be. The 3,200 CPS teachers who belong to the union will vote on the report Wednes day and Thursday. Unless they reject it by Friday, the report will become binding for the union. The school district is tentatively scheduled to vote on the report Friday.

        If either side rejects the report, both sides have to return to the bargaining table.

        Although the report “did a reasonable job for us in salary,” it didn't recommend safeguards the union requested on issues such as staffing charter schools.

        CFT wanted existing CPS schools that convert to charter schools to use district teachers.

        “We wanted to strengthen the district's commitment to teacher quality and higher professional stan dards for teachers,” Mr. Mooney said. “We wanted stronger protections against contracting out.” Union leaders were pleased, however, with the report's recommendation that class sizes be reduced to 18 students in grades K-3, Mr. Mooney said.

        At Monday's meeting, CFT members also are expected to vote on whether to authorize union leaders to call a strike.

        Attorney Mark Stepaniak, who represents the district, said the fact-finder's report represented “very little change.”

        “It's mostly the status quo, and from our standpoint, the status quo doesn't advance our reform agenda,” Mr. Stepaniak said.


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