Talks between the Toledo Federation of Teachers and the board of education could yield at least a partial solution to the problem of high turnover in central-city schools.
On the bargaining table is a plan to pay some teachers extra money to teach in tough schools.
School board member Terry Glazer hinted at such a plan during a news conference yesterday at the school district's administrative building, 420 East Manhattan Blvd.
He said other proposals under discussion are to lengthen the school day by 15 minutes or 30 minutes, for which employees would be paid, and to expand the evaluations of some teachers who are deemed to be underachieving.
Mr. Glazer charged that the rest of the board and the administration are failing to ask for what he called significant reform in the quest for collaboration with the teachers' union.
“There's your reform, and they're thinking that this is going to turn Toledo Public Schools around. The reality, folks, is this isn't going to do it. Those minor changes aren't going to make a major difference,” Mr. Glazer said.
He said he's trying to mobilize public opinion to pressure the board and the administration to be more aggressive in the negotiations.
The three-year contracts with the teachers' union and other employee unions expire March 30. Officials have said an extension is likely while talks continue.
No other board members have joined Mr. Glazer, who increasingly has taken lone stands on issues before the five-member board. He opposed the appointment of Superintendent Eugene Sanders last year and the placement of a 6.5-mill operating levy on the ballot. The levy passed in the Nov. 7 election and will generate $16 million a year in revenue.
Mr. Glazer's disclosure, despite its lack of detail, drew criticism from board President Peter Silverman who said it violated the conditions of the closed-door board sessions in which Mr. Glazer was briefed. “He should not have disclosed any details,” Mr. Silverman said. “That is a violation of confidentiality, whatever details there are, because there's an agreement not to discuss them.
“I'll say again that I expect this to be a comprehensive reform-based agreement that the public will like.”.
Mr. Silverman has hinted that discussions have been held to address the imbalance in the experience levels of teachers in low-income and higher-income neighborhood schools.
Francine Lawrence, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, could not be reached for comment.
In a series last October, The Blade reported on the school district's practice of sending newly hired teachers into the central city, while experienced teachers take advantage of seniority provisions in the teachers' contract to claim jobs in more desirable schools on the city's fringes.
As a result, some buildings function virtually as entry-level buildings, with annual turnover as high as 50 per cent, while other buildings may lose few or no teachers in the regular grades from year to year, records show.
Under current school board policy, all teachers are paid the same, depending on their experience and level of college education.
Mr. Glazer focused most of his criticism on the lack of evaluation of teachers. He said the board should borrow from a plan negotiated and implemented in the Cincinnati city school district this academic year, in which teachers move up into higher pay categories depending on how they are evaluated in the performance of their jobs.