Teachers will support any future Lorain County JVS levies despite an ongoing labor dispute over a proposed new administrative position, according to union president Eric Robson.
After voicing anger at an April 21 meeting, he felt the board of education received his concerns as an ultimatum.
Robson had spoken up to oppose the creation of a director of marketing and communications position to replace the public relations job now held by the retiring Tina Salyer.
But he never meant to imply teachers would turn their backs on the vocational school’s anticipated levy campaign.
“This school is our life,” said Robson. “My wife has been here 33 years, and we’ve been married for 30 of those. I, myself, have been here 16 years. We will support a levy for this school under any circumstances. Not supporting it would be a ridiculous thing to do. If any member came to me and suggested something like that, I would tell them the same thing.”
The association has kept up its usual efforts to support levies, Robson said.
“We have 93 teachers here at school. and we’re not whiny crybabies. But if members are losing jobs unnecessarily, we have to find out what’s going on. Our association puts on fundraisers every single year for the levy committee,” he said. “We’re already pushing $30,000 that is ready to donate. How often does that happen? We support levies financially and physically. That can mean going door-to-door, speaking at a church, and making phone calls.”
Superintendent Glenn Faircloth responded to Robson’s statement by saying a new administrator was not meant to do away with Salyer’s job, but to act as the district’s spokesperson when dealing with sensitive issues in the future, including those that could potentially create a conflict of interest in the teachers’ union.
“The few times that we have had bad or sensitive situations here, which isn’t very often, they should be handled by the administrators we already have or through the school’s legal team. We don’t need to create a new administrative position for that,” said Robson.
Teachers were not happy with how they were informed of these changes, he said.
“We were not made aware of any of this until we received the agenda, which was two days before the April meeting,” he said. “We talked several months ago with the board when Salyer put in for her retirement, and made other inquiries since then asking what was going to happen. Not being given the courtesy of letting us know before seeing that agenda was hard to take.”
Specific wording of the new administrative position’s job description has raised questions among teachers and also board members.
“The description given at the meeting did not match what we were given on paper,” said Robson. “At the meeting, the key component was the communications and PR aspect. In the written description, though, it was more about marketing. Marketing is what our association member has done. She has always done a great job of that.”
He added that the union understands circumstances can sometimes dictate a reduction in teaching positions.
“Going back four to five years, we are down about 2o teachers,” he said. “Things like enrollment can cause that, but we’re actually projected to have a slight increase there. It’s not like we’re down 500 students. We also understand that the passage of time and new technology can cause changes, like getting rid of typewriting classes or ones covering other obsolete office functions.”
All in all, both the union and the board want to give students the best chance for success at the vocational school, according to Robson.
“We have labor relations meetings every month with the principal and her staff,” he said. “They’ve done a good job having an open door policy. I never feel like I can’t talk to the principal or the board office. I’m disappointed we’ve lost positions, but I can still look them in the eye and have a good conversation. We all want to give employers the best possible trained student that we can.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise Teachers’ union president Eric Robson reads a prepared statement at a recent Lorain County JVS board meeting.