Mineral Ridge teachers and school board at an impasse over 3rd y - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Mineral Ridge teachers and school board at an impasse over 3rd year wage increase

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WEATHERSFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio - The Mineral Ridge Education Association held an informational picket Thursday afternoon outside of the high school.

Since March, the union and the school board have been negotiating a wage reopener for the upcoming third year of their contract.

MREA President Tammie McCale says, "We were promised in the third year of our contract, if money became available, we would have a reopener with a wage increase and the board will not give us anything."

Back in 2010, when the two parties negotiated the contract, the board had projected that it would be facing a $928,000 deficit by the end of this fiscal year.

Instead, the district now has a $1.7 million unencumbered balance that will carry over into 2013.

However, Superintendent Damon Dohar does not think that will be enough to give the teachers the 2.5% wage increase they are asking for.

"My job is to make sure I protect our savings fund because we're going to need that down the road because expenses go up. In the past year alone, medical coverage has gone up $125,000 in our district," Dohar said.

Dohar also points out that in addition to the teachers step increases; they received a 2.5% increase in the first year of this current contract and then a 1.5% increase in the second.

"We have not asked them for anything else on health care because we have a three year contract coming up in the spring," Dohar said.

MREA President Tammie McCale says her unit has always been attentive to the district's financial needs.

"We have a series of zeros. We are the lowest paid on our base salary in the county. So this wouldn't even bring us up to what the other people are making," McCale said.

At this point, the school board has offered the teachers a zero-percent increase, that they will keep their step increases and then a $500 bonus.

Negotiations on the wage reopener resume on Monday.

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