Gahanna-Jefferson teachers’ union, district reach tentative agreement; teachers could return Monday


GAHANNA, Ohio (WCMH) — The Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association, the union representing the district’s teachers, and the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools Board of Education have reached a tentative agreement that could have teachers back in the classroom by Monday.

A joint statement issued by the union and the district reads, in full:

“Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools (GJPS) has reached a tentative agreement with the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association (GJEA) that will bring our teachers back to school.

On October 18, 2020, the GJEA will vote to ratify the agreement. Pending ratification, the GJPS Board of Education will vote on the agreement at a special meeting at 5:45 PM on October 18, 2020.”

Joint statement from the Gahanna-Jefferson School Board and the teachers’ union

About an hour before the statement was released, the union issued a tweet that the agreement had been reached.

The announcement only stated that the tentative agreement will be reviewed and voted upon by union members before any details are released.

If signed, the agreement would end the four-day strike which began Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the Gahanna-Jefferson School Board President issued a letter Saturday stating union negotiators made changes to a tentative agreement before it could be signed Friday.

School Board President Beryl Piccolantonio writes in the letter addressed to the school community that the union’s action has “cause significant damage in the relationship between the bargaining teams.”

According to Piccolantonio’s letter, board and union negotiators had reached a tentative agreement Friday based on a proposal the union, the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association, sent board negotiators, with the union offering to write up the final agreement that would then be signed by both parties.

“GJEA provided the final Tentative Agreement to the Board on October 16, 2020, at 1:55 p.m.,” Piccolantonio wrote. “When the board’s team reviewed the agreement, it was identified that GJEA made undisclosed changes between the GJEA proposal from October 16, 2020, and the written tentative agreement.”

Teachers in the district have been on strike since Tuesday. At the time, according to collective bargaining proposals from both sides, the main sticking point appeared to be teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the letter, GJEA moved two provisions that would automatically expire on June 20, 2020, to a non-expiring section of the tentative agreement. The letter does not specify what those provisions are, only that if they were not allowed to expire, “normal district staffing operations will be negatively impacted.”

Piccolantonio’s letter states that the board has made the district’s bargaining team aware of its concerns about the union’s perceived actions and that the district remains committed to the tentative agreement it reached with the union Friday.

“The board bargaining team is ready to sign a correct Tentative Agreement immediately so we can get our teachers back to school on Monday, October 19,” the letter states. “We hope GJEA is ready to do the same.”

As of Saturday afternoon, substitute teachers are set to teach students this coming Monday should an agreement not be made before then.

Piccolantonio’s full letter is available below.

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