Teachers approve tentative contract

AUSTINTOWN – The teaching union for Austintown School District approved a tentative contract Monday after nearly a year of negotiations.

Austintown Education Association Union President Barbara Tomic said Monday night that an ”overwhelming majority” of the union members approved the tentative agreement. She did not give vote totals.

The union represents 313 teachers, guidance counselors, speech pathologists and other educators.

She said the contract language on salaries was the one issue that was clarified to the union’s satisfaction and was among the main issues.

”The union was very pleased with the offer. We were able to resolve some contract language regarding salaries,” Tomic said.

A tentative agreement was reached three weeks ago. Teachers had issued a 10-day strike notice on Feb. 20.

Details of the contract are not being released until the agreement is approved by the Austintown Board of Education. Board President David Schnurrenberger said he couldn’t comment on the contract until the board votes on it at 6:30 p.m. today at the regular board meeting.

”It will be on the agenda for the board to act upon,” he said.

Negotiations began in May 2012 and continued for 10 months.

Approximately 400 union members held a marathon negotiating session on Feb. 25 with a federal mediator and the board, and agreed to a tentative deal after eight hours of talks. That session followed six months of negotiations and the threat of a possible strike.

Teachers had been working under an expired contract since Aug. 29. Base pay for starting teachers had been one of the main stumbling blocks. Austintown Superintendent Vince Colaluca previously told Tribune Chronicle newspartner WYTV 33 News that the district was able to offer raises to teachers after reviewing the new state budget and seeing there were no further cuts like there had been in the previous two years.

Some other stumbling blocks had been textbooks, extracurricular activities for students, class size and open enrollment.