Members of the Columbus Education Association in Ohio voted Sunday night to accept a comprehensive conceptual agreement, ending the union’s weeklong strike that caused Columbus City Schools to pivot to remote learning for the first few days of class.
The three-year agreement commits to salary increases aimed at recruiting and retaining educators, phasing in reduced class sizes from elementary through high school, planning for building improvements to ensure learning spaces are climate-controlled, and providing incentives for teachers to earn licensure and certification in high-needs areas.
Seventy-one percent of the teachers' union voted to accept the contract Sunday, according to The Columbus Dispatch. The next morning, the Columbus Board of Education held a special meeting to ratify the agreement. Students returned to class Monday after attending remote classes since Wednesday due to the strike.
According to the union, Columbus teachers will also have their first paid parental leave program, on top of 4% salary increases each year during the contract. Further, the contact limits the number of CEA positions that can be outsourced. The agreement allows for flexibility with time and structure in a school day, and it improves direct two-way communication between families and their child’s teacher.
“This is a contract that keeps students at the center of all we do and supports our board’s educational mission for Columbus City Schools,” said Columbus Board of Education President Jennifer Adair in a statement. “Together with CEA leadership, we have created an agreement that recognizes the critical role in achieving our mission.”
CEA went on strike last week for the first time since 1975. The union represents nearly 4,500 teachers, librarians, nurses, counselors, psychologists and other education professionals in Columbus City Schools.
The union and the district’s board reached a conceptual agreement for a new contract on Thursday after nearly 14 hours of ongoing negotiations, according to CEA.
“We recognize the sacrifices students, parents, and teachers alike have made during the three-day strike as we fought for the schools Columbus students deserve,” CEA said in a statement. “Let the history books reflect that this strike was about students who deserved a commitment to modern schools with heating and air conditioning, smaller class sizes, and a well-rounded curriculum that includes art, music and P.E.”