Plunderbund reports on the disputes between the school board and the teachers in Reynoldburg, Ohio.

The district gets high ratings from the state, even though poverty has steadily increased in the student body and nearly half the students live in poverty. Yet despite these accomplishments, the school board has not kept pace with teachers’ salaries and is now making a divisive contract offer.

Plunderbund writes:

“Reynoldsburg has consistently performed among the top school districts in Ohio, and over the past four years has shown continued improvement based on reporting by the Ohio Department of Education. In 2010, the district received a rating of “Effective”. In the three succeeding years, the district advanced to receive ratings of “Excellent”, then “Excellent with Distinction”, and then received a grade of “A” on the state’s new report card last year. In all three of those years, the district met 100% of the state’s performance indicators.

“Even more impressive, the teachers in Reynoldsburg have accomplished this feat with a changing student population – specifically an increase in the number of students living in poverty of over 10% (from 37.6% to 47.9%). With socioeconomic status being a huge factor in student achievement, such gains on state indicators simply cannot be ignored.

“Instead of recognizing these accomplishments on the part of the teaching staff, the Reynoldsburg School Board has chosen to engage in negotiation tactics designed to divide the teaching staff, implying that a great disparity exists among the teaching ranks. The performance of the district as a whole contradicts that notion.”

Nonetheless the school board is trying to drive a wedge among teachers by changing health benefits based on marital status.

“If Reynoldsburg truly wants to recruit good teachers and retain the excellent teachers they already have (as evidenced by the district’s improving performance), then the School Board should quit messing around and seriously reflect on how their actions are driving away experienced teachers. Instead of eliminating benefits packages that, by their own admission, most other districts have in place, they should retain the benefits for married teachers so that young, talented unmarried teachers don’t feel the need to seek employment in a district that has a better benefits package. That’s part of retaining teachers in a competitive environment, especially when the salary schedule is so similar.

“And regarding the salary schedule, they should seek to increase it across the board, but especially for the large number of teachers with Master’s degrees who should be most tempted to look to competing districts that will pay them more for that extra experience (that may also help pay off the student loans required to obtain the degree).

“The Reynoldsburg School Board thinks it is being innovative and forward thinking in trying to attract and retain teachers, but their misguided information, deceptive marketing, and lack of understanding of the “competitive teaching marketplace” has them driving a wedge between the excellent teachers that they already have employed in the district and instead is driving their best teachers away.

“Instead of playing games, the Reynoldsburg School Board should listen to the teachers who are leading the way in improving the district’s overall performance. While School Board members come and go, it’s the teachers who will be there for decades, continuing to have a positive influence on the lives of the children and families of Reynoldsburg.”