Wooster BOE OKs teacher, classified raises hoping to retain staff

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WOOSTER − The Board of Education for City Schools at Monday's meeting approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement reached with the Wooster Education Association on June 27.

The agreement covers certified and classified staff and includes an annual base salary increase for teachers of 3.25% this year; 3.25% starting Aug. 1 next year; and a 3.25% hike in 2024.

The contract expires July 31, 2025.

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For classified staff, base salary increases implemented over the course of the contract, Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2025, are $3 this year; 3% on July 1, 2023; and 3% on July 1, 2024.

Superintendent Gabe Tudor acknowledged, after discussing the $3 hike, "that is a significant increase."

Gabe Tudor
Gabe Tudor

However, Tudor said, the discussion with the WEA concluded the district goal is "to incentivize our employees to want to be here and want to stay. We want to be competitive in the market."

The hope is it will "encourage more people to continue to want to work for Wooster City Schools and to remain here."Additionally, the increase in salary is "more in line with similar districts."

"We're so glad we ca do that," said board President Sue Herman.

Tudor told the board he is "excited to bring both of these contracts to you today. Both of these represent a lot of good collaborative work between the administration and the union."

He described the process as "extensive."

"We feel it's fair and at the same time continues to put the district in a financial position to be good stewards of our resources," Tudor said. "This is a great step forward for us."

Treasurer Amy Welty clarified the district's projected cash balance at the end of 2026 would be "a little under $32 million" instead of $36 million because she had built into the forecast overall wage increases of 3%.

"Again, we felt it was justified," Welty said.

Wooster school board member Michael Knapic resigns

Board Vice President Michael Knapic is resigning effective Aug. 24.

In 2014, Knapic had been appointed to fill a vacant seat, and was later elected to the board in 2016.

The board is seeking candidates to fulfill Knapic's term through Dec. 31, 2023.

“In my eight years of service, in my opinion, the BOE and Wooster City Schools have made many laudable accomplishments,” Knapic said in a statement published on the school district's website. “Top notch teaching and learning, several contracts that have been mutually beneficial to both the union and WCSD,  many facility upgrades/new builds, navigating the COVID pandemic in the best way we could, hiring a new treasurer and superintendent and development of a Master Plan for the district are just a few examples. I am confident that this board will continue to lead WCSD in a positive direction along with whoever is chosen to take my place.”

The board discussed the process for replacing Knapic. A new member must be appointed within 30 days of his resignation. Applications are due by 8 a.m. Aug. 22.

Those 18 and older interested in submitting an application may do so online at applitrack.com/wooster/onlineapp.

The board will meet in a closed-door session at 6 p.m. Aug. 29 to interview candidates.

"We will take a moment and honor (Knapic)" at the Aug. 23 regular session, Tudor said.

"The board’s primary responsibility is to establish programs and procedures that will facilitate maximum learning for every student," the online post states. "The board must accomplish this while also being responsible for wise management of resources available to the district ... " and "it must carry out its functions openly while seeking the involvement and contributions of the public, students and staff in its decision-making process."

Strategic planning ahead for Wooster City Schools

Tudor told the board the district will begin to engage in strategic planning, which is different from master facilities planning. The plan, to be built with community feedback and proposed to enlist the assistance of Impact Group, will serve as a compass for decisions to be made, he said. It will focus on areas such as school culture, instruction, economics and technology.

"All these different aspects will be incorporated," he said.

"We need to be examining what we're doing," Herman said.

Tudor emphasized the need to ensure staff and community are involved in the plan anticipated to be considered for board adoption in December.

Board members Danielle Schantz and Ryan Kuzma asked that thought be given to engaging people who typically don't fill out surveys or come to public meetings.

Their opinions are important, Schantz said.

We need to be cognizant of their thinking," Herman said.

FOR YOUR INFO

  • Tudor asked board members to suggest ideas for topics deserving reports at meetings. He mentioned discussing school safety and state report card data. Board member Jody Starcher recommended reporting on how government funding received for school safety will be used; state funding changes; a holistic, rather than "piecemeal" look at mental health services provided for students by the district; and the distinction between College Credit Plus and honors classes. Danielle Schantz suggested looking at online dangers for students and legal ramifications, as well as highlighting Wayne County Schools Career Center programs - "such a great opportunity for so many kids."

  • Herman would like to offer information to the community on CRAs; and Ryan Kuzma, student clubs.

  • At Convocation on Aug. 15, Diane Mealey was named as the  Ralph R. and Grace B. Jones Foundation Outstanding Teacher of the Year, and Robin Long as the Outstanding Staff Member.

UP NEXT Meets at 7 p.m. Aug. 23 in Wooster High School large instruction room, 515 Oldman Road. Meetings are also broadcast on the district's YouTube channel.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: Wooster school board OKs pay hikes; discusses filling vacant seat