Columbus City Schools teachers march for better pay, working conditions

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Columbus City Schools teachers along with its union will “march for the school” on Wednesday in an effort to demand better pay, smaller classroom sizes and better working conditions.

The march comes as teachers are four months away from the end of their current contract, which ends in August. The teacher’s union is currently in contract negotiations with the district.

“Right now, it just feels like we are islands amongst ourselves trying to survive and we need the resources in order to be able to provide for our students and we can’t just pull that out of our pockets,” said teacher, Regina Fuentes.

Fuentes has been teaching in the Columbus City Schools district for 20 years.

“We have been going through this negotiation process, it seems like, over and over again,” Fuentes says.

The 10th and 11th grade Eastmoor Academy High School English teacher says teachers want the district to show more support in the classroom. 

“We are teaching in some really old, antiquated buildings, with old antiquated technology that doesn’t
 work.”

And the list doesn’t stop there.

Teachers say a better student disciplinary policy needs to be put in place, and teachers need better pay and more teachers and social workers are needed in the classroom.

The 4,000-plus certified educators in the district are represented by the Columbus Education Association.

The union says more money could be coming into the district if the city stops giving property-tax-abatements to wealthy corporations.

The union cited the CoverMyMeds relocation deal the city and the school board approved last year that involved $83 million in property tax-abatements on a 225-million-dollar campus west of downtown.

“You look at CAHS parents who want a new building for CAHS, Dr. Talisa Dixon said at a board meeting it was $40 million to replace a building. Well, CoverMyMeds was $55-milllion, that’s money to replace a building,” said John Coneglio, president of the Columbus Education Association.

In a statement to NBC4, the district said:

“Columbus City Schools is in contract negotiations with our partners at the Columbus Education Association, which represents more than 4,000 of our certificated teachers, counselors, nurses, and educators. The current contract with CEA ends in August.

The Board of Education is optimistic these negotiations will be productive, respectful, and timely.

We hope everyone involved in the negotiations recognizes the urgency in improving the academic outcomes of our students. It is a priority of the Board and our new Superintendent, as both work to align all of our District’s efforts behind our Strategic Plan.

Investing in a great educational team for our students is paramount to the success of our students and our District because we know that our students and their families rely on our teachers and staff to be fully prepared, present and focused every school day on achieving continued academic growth.

Because negotiations are underway, the District will not publicly offer any comments on specific contract issues, respecting the good-faith intentions of the negotiating process.

We respect CEA’s right to engage in concerted activities related to union matters, including this march. We’re pleased that they are focusing on what our students deserve because our common goal should always first and foremost be the success of our students.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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