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Published: Wednesday, 6/23/2010

TPS, teachers' union reach concessionary deal

BLADE STAFF

The union representing teachers and paraprofessionals in the Toledo Public Schools has reached a tentative contract settlement with the board.

Francine Lawrence, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, said Wednesday that the tentative agreement was reached Tuesday and would be presented to members for a vote on Saturday.

She declined to discuss specifics of the settlement, but said the bargaining committee would be recommending approval by the membership, which includes about 2,100 teachers, 350 paraprofessionals, and 330 daily substitute teachers.

"The contract settlement involves concessions so it's not something a union president looks forward to presenting, but we will recommend acceptance of the agreement," Ms. Lawrence said.

The school board voted last month to use all its $3.7 million rainy-day money, called a budget stabilization fund, which left $4 million in cuts or savings to find by June 30.

Superintendent John Foley said then that some of it could come through greater union concessions; if not, more programs will have to be trimmed or cut.

Pay and benefits make up about 85 percent of the school system's operating budget.

The three main bargaining units earlier agreed to 1 percent pay cuts and adjustments to health care for about $3 million in savings, which already have been included in the budget.

Every 1 percent cut in pay equals about $1.6 million in general fund savings, TPS Treasurer Dan Romano said.

Mr. Foley said Wednesday that the Toledo Association of Administrative Personnel, which represents about 300 principals, counselors, and other non-teaching professionals, has ratified the agreement, while the five units represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees are to vote on the proposal Thursday.

He said the concessionary agreements coupled with other budget reductions approved by the board add up to the $39 million required to balance the district's budget by June 30.

Mr. Foley declined to discuss details but categorized three levels of concessions — salary, health care, and reduction of positions.

"I can tell you that $39 million is very difficult to do, and it makes reductions that I think everyone would rather not have to discuss, but we've worked collaboratively and tried to be cooperative and tried to put together the best program we could," he said.

The district's three main bargaining units originally forged a deal in the spring that would have cut salaries by 1 percent and increased health care co-payments, but Mr. Foley said additional concessions were needed after the district's projected deficit grew from $30 million to $39 million.

An income tax levy that would have raised about $18.1 million failed in May.



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