To the editor:
I'd like to correct misinformation in a recent letter about United Schools.
First, employees are represented by the United Education Association and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees. These unions have union representatives to assist them in negotiations if they so choose. The unions choose their team members who meet with the administrative team to negotiate contract terms. Once terms are agreed upon by both teams, the contract is approved or rejected by a vote of each union. If approved by the union, the contract is then approved by the Board of Education. In the fall of 2013 negotiated union contract terms were followed.
Several years ago, due to increasing benefit costs, the United BOE eliminated insurance coverage for new bus drivers hired, since they work 22-25 hours per week, and the board didn't believe they could continue giving full-time benefits to part-time workers. New hires were/are made aware of this prior to hiring.
Board members are paid $125 per meeting (set by the state). United caps the compensated meetings at 16 per year. If they meet more than 16 times, they're working for "free" at those meetings. Under Ohio law, board members may purchase insurance coverage. Members doing so pay 100 percent of the premium.
United administrators have a pay scale set by the Board of Education and it is followed with regard to any pay increases.
Second, regarding blood tests for employees, this is part of the state mandated wellness plan for school employees. The blood tests were free, voluntary, (not mandatory) and help employees become aware of potential health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.. Federal HIPAA regulations would protect employees' privacy.
Third, the school provides information to all parents/guardians regarding the cost of breakfast and lunch, including paperwork to apply for free or reduced price meals for those meeting the federal guidelines. If the adults fail to do the paperwork, or don't send enough money to cover the student's meals, why is that the school's fault? At least the school is willing to provide a nutritious meal for the student rather than let them go hungry.
Fourth, every November, the Ohio School Boards Association holds the Capital Conference for three days for learning/legal/information sessions, speakers, performances, vendors, and interaction with others about public education in Ohio. United board members attend the conference annually, and gain valuable insight and training for the operation of a public school district, and information on legislative changes affecting schools.
Fifth, only if United replaced its entire fleet with compressed natural gas buses would we need 16-18 new buses. The BOE plans to continue purchasing one-to-two buses per year.
Sixth, the $504,127 contract paid for 34 windows and roofing in the junior high, five sets of double doors, three other entrance doors, a computerized security system with staff fobs for access, and the centralizing of the administrative offices for the superintendent, treasurer, assistant treasurer, payroll clerk, EMIS coordinator, and secretary.
Don't believe the misinformation - get the facts.