Aug. 28, 2019 -- The Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights (CH-UH) School Board released the following statement:
Last night, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District Board of Education voted to approve a new, one-year collective bargaining agreement with the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union. The agreement covers more than 500 teachers, school counselors, school psychologists, related service providers, school nurses, school social workers, and ancillaries. The Union ratified the contract on Friday, August 23.
The one-year contract includes a 2% salary increase; changes to healthcare to help contain costs; clarification of issues involving leaves of absence, retention, and reductions in force; and allows for increased instructional time at the high school while also providing for more student support during the school day.
Good faith negotiations leading to this agreement were incredibly challenging due to the state legislature’s decision in the July 2019 biennial budget to rapidly expand the EdChoice voucher program, which diverts public education funding to private schools. Voucher expansion is negatively impacting the CH-UH City School District budget in several ways:
- The District is projected to lose $7.8 million in funding this year due to EdChoice vouchers alone, and close to $3.2 million in Jon Peterson and Autism vouchers for students with special needs.
- The voucher expansion and the fact that this year the state designated Cleveland Heights High School an EdChoice school based on its 2012 graduation rate (using seven-year-old data from adults who are now approximately 25 years old) accounts for $2.1 million of that total. The District has worked diligently during the past six years to improve its graduation rate, and for the past three years has enjoyed a graduation rate that is above the state average. Because of the state’s decision to use old data, the District is receiving zero credit for its notable gains in student achievement.
- The problem is compounded by the fact that each EdChoice voucher costs the District more than the amount it receives per student in state funding.
- Even though more than 1,700 students living within District boundaries are using vouchers this year, the number of families choosing to attend CH-UH schools is increasing as well. Preliminary data shows the District’s enrollment is up by approximately 2% for the second year in a row, which means the District is educating more children -- yet is receiving less state funding to do so.
- Unlike voucher laws in other states, there is no cap to how much money a particular school district can lose.
“The disparate effect that our school district faces from Ohio’s voucher policy is due to a breakdown in the legislative process, where policymakers insert unvetted policies into the budget legislation,” said CHTU President Ari Klein.“I appreciate the hard work our teachers and staff have put forth to increase student achievement,” said CH-UH School Board President Jodi Sourini. “Everyone compromised and collaborated to finalize this contract. The CHTU and the CH-UH City School District are united in seeking policy solutions to address this problem, including ensuring that the District is not losing more per voucher than we are receiving from the state and capping the amount a district can lose to vouchers. Above all else, Ohio schools need a fair and equitable school funding formula with a separate funding stream for all vouchers, charters, and scholarships.”