Columbus City Schools support staff call for respect at board meeting

Columbus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Families in the state’s largest school district will have to wait to find out if busing plans for high school students next year will be changing.

Originally, a Columbus City Schools Board vote was planned for tonight. However, board members still have a lot of questions, so it was taken off the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.

However, one topic that dominated the meeting was the ongoing contract negotiations between the district and the union for the school system’s support staff.

Employees are asking for respect, and did so during the meeting and right outside the building as it was going on.

Members of the Columbus School Employees Association outside the Columbus City Schools offices asking the district to respect their work.

“We work hard and CCS just doesn’t respect the work that we do,” said Lori Carson, president of the Columbus School Employees Association.

The union represents more than 3,000 employees like bus drivers, food service workers , secretaries, custodians, educational assistants and other support staff.

Carson said contract negotiations started last week and are ongoing.

“Without going into details about negotiation, that’s what enlightened us to say we needed respect, because what the district brought to the negotiation table was totally disrespectful to the work that we give them,” she said.

As hundreds of union members and support staff gathered holding “Leadership Matters” and “Respect Our Work” signs outside, some of the school board met inside.

“You are valued and every day we will tell you so and every day we will continue to work to demonstrate this as your governing body,” said Columbus City School Board President Jennifer Adair. “We are all part of one team.”

Adair thanked support staff before and after several spoke during the meeting. She mentioned CCS not laying any employees off during the pandemic and a three percent raise in the last contract. 

“We have ginormous plans and it does take every single one of us to do it,” Adair said. “Thank you so much for your dedication to our students, our schools, and our communities. And for having passion in the jobs you do.”

“We all love and respect CCS and that’s all we’re asking in return,” Carson said.

Union leadership said the fourth day of negotiations is Wednesday.

As for getting kids to and from school this coming school year, the district’s transportation team recommends a plan that would have high school students taking Central Ohio Transit Authority buses instead of the usual yellow school buses. 

According to the district, that’s due to a bus driver shortage.

Any change, including this plan, would need to be approved by the school board.

A district spokesperson said the district is working to hire more drivers and is still looking at ways to handle transportation this coming school year.

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