Oak Harbor teachers, district agree on contract

After approximately two months of negotiations, Oak Harbor’s teachers have a new contract.

The members of the Oak Harbor Education Association approved the contract by a 98 percent margin and the Oak Harbor School Board approved it during its June 23 meeting.

Peter Szalai, president of the Oak Harbor Education Association, said the negotiations this year were short, efficient and amicable.

“We’re very pleased that it didn’t drag out,” Szalai said.

Teachers will receive a pay bump of approximately 2 percent in addition to the 4.4 percent state-mandated pay increase. Szalai added that teachers also got more control of non-classroom time.

School District Superintendent Rick Schulte was also pleased with the results.

“They were successful in restoring all the issues on the table,” Schulte said of the negotiating teams.

Both Szalai and Schulte credited the training a mediator provided before negotiations began.

The contract for the Oak Harbor Education Association will last for two years, which is a year shorter than the current contract.

Szalai said contracts can last between one and four years and the length of the contract indicates how satisfied members are with the current contract.

He said the two-year time period indicates there is some dissatisfaction with the contract and members want to keep their options open.

In two years, more money could become available, either through the state, local levy, or from federal Impact Aid.

Schulte said the time difference was needed to stagger the contracts of the unions. If the OHEA had agreed to a three-year contract, then it would have expired the same time as the Public School Employees contract. PSE represents the school district’s support staff.

It would have been very time consuming to have two different contract negotiations take place at the same time, Schulte said.

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