School Board 'deeply disppointed' in WTA vote

Posted at 4:47 PM, May 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-13 17:02:36-04

The Westlake Teachers' Association rejected Westlake City School District's offer on Friday and are now waiting on a response from the school board.

WTA has not voted to strike. 

The Westlake School Board of Education said it was "deeply disappointed" that the association rejected its last offer. The statement continued:

...After one full year of negotiations, we made an excellent offer to the teachers union that included salary increases, along with modest changes in health care.

We will meet to discuss this latest news and the union’s requested pledge at our next board meeting scheduled for May 23.

The Westlake Board of Education agrees that our teachers are extremely valuable, and that is why their average salaries are in the top 2% of all 612 school districts in Ohio. Frankly, we just cannot afford to do more, especially considering three failed levy attempts.

In the meantime, final exams, end-of-year activities, concerts and graduation are all coming up in the next few weeks. We remain focused on our students as they end their school year.

Before The Vote

The Westlake City School District responded on Friday to a pledge request from the teachers union.

Teachers and their supporters packed the entire room Monday during a school board meeting, many holding signs showing how much they've lost in salary cuts over the last few years.

The meeting ended with teachers shouting and booing at school board members.

The Westlake school board took nearly 15 minutes of public comment, per usual for the meetings. But they didn't leave enough time for the teacher's association to present their binding agreement. Instead, they abruptly got up and left.

That's when the booing and shouting started.

Minutes later, the president of the teacher's association took the stage anyway, reading the agreement.

"The WTA is united and fully prepared to strike," Patrick McMorrow said in front of the crowd. "But we don't want to strike."

The school board said they have negotiated in good faith and their final offer does include salary raises for teachers. 

This state from Westlake Schools was released on Friday: 

After one full year of negotiation with the teachers union, and multiple proposals and counter proposals, the Board of Education did make an excellent offer to the teachers union. We are now awaiting their response and sincerely hope they vote to accept the proposal.  This offer includes salary increases, along with modest increases in health care costs. This last best offer is truly the most we can do while balancing our budget. After 3 failed levies, we only have a finite dollar amount. Contrary to what has been stated, Westlake teachers are the 12th highest paid in the state, which puts them in the top 2% out of 612 school districts (according to FY2015 ODE data).

Additionally, on Wednesday, May 11, the Board of Education officially received a request to sign a pledge from the Westlake Teachers Association asking us to rescind our last best offer in exchange for an agreement to not go on strike. If they reject the proposal today but do not issue a notice to go on strike, we will review this proposed pledge at our next board meeting held on May 23.

We sincerely hope that this will all be a moot point by 4pm today because the teachers would have voted to accept our last best offer. Our teachers are extremely valuable, and it is important this close to the end of the school year that we are all focused on helping our students end the year on a high note. Students are preparing for final exams, participating in end-of-year activities and sporting events, performing in concerts, and our seniors are preparing for graduation.

The Westlake Teachers' Association held a press conference on Friday at 4:30 p.m. outside of Lee Bumeson Middle School to announce the results of the vote by the teachers to either accept or reject the Last Best and Final Offer presented by the Westlake Board of Education.