Negotiations for new contract begin for Lakota teachers

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - Teachers in the second largest school district in the tri-state suddenly have to re-negotiate their contracts. Lakota school board members have decided to "void" the second year of their contract with hundreds of teachers, and re-open negotiations.

Board members have the power to do that, because by law, the district must show a positive cash balance for next year, which isn't happening -- the district also faces a nearly 30 percent reduction in state funding.

"We didn't anticipate as large of a reduction, which is why we're very concerned about the financial future for Lakota," said district spokeswoman Laura Kursman.

The school board had originally agreed on three "memos of understanding" with the teachers union, that would modify contracts for middle and elementary school teachers and add more teaching time at the high school level, but those memos were tabled.

"We were a little taken a back when they tabled those MOU'S, we felt like that took care of providing opportunities for our student and also their needs of the financial cuts," said Lakota Teacher's union president Sharon Mays.

Teachers had already agreed to a two year pay freeze under the old contract , now more concessions could be coming, but Mays says she doesn't want to prolong the process of negotiations.

"The students are our number one concern, and I really don't like the idea of it taking to long, because it will impact next year, if we delay the process," May said.

Until a new contract is reached, the school board has also tabled nearly $12 million in cuts. Last year a federal mediator had to be brought in during contract negotiations, after an impasse was declared between the school board and the teacher's union.

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