CANTON: The Canton Board of Education approved a three-year contract with its teachers union Wednesday morning and made two other changes designed to please pupils and parents.
In a move running counter to many other districts around the state, the board voted to increase busing service. The district will transport children in kindergarten through eighth grade who live a quarter-mile or more from their schools. The previous cutoff was one mile.
Superintendent Adrian Allison said he hoped the move will help the district compete with charter schools, whose students must be transported by public schools under state law.
“It’s also safer for our kids to be transported a quarter-mile,” he said.
Additional transportation costs would be minimal if the city schools can enroll 40 students who attend charters, thus reversing the flow of about $8,225 in state per-pupil money back to Canton, Allison said.
According to a Beacon Journal analysis of state data, Canton lost more than 900 students to charter schools last year, costing the district about $7.58 million.
A provision in the contract with the Canton Professional Educators’ Association will facilitate another major difference in the next school year: the elimination of monthly late-start days. Staff members used those two hours for collaboration and training.
Teachers agreed in their contract to extend their workday by 15 minutes. All are committed by their new contract to spend at least four more days on the job; some will work seven more days. They will use the time for professional development and collaboration, Allison said.
The late starts were particularly inconvenient for working parents, board member Ida Ross-Freeman said.
The teachers’ contract, which also covers psychologists and counselors, reinstates longevity step raises and gives across-the-board pay increases of 1.95 percent, 1.75 percent and 1.55 percent in the first, second and third years, respectively. It takes effect July 1.
Union members’ pay has been frozen for the past two years.
Medical insurance premiums will increase to 13 percent of the district’s total cost over the life of the contract.
The additional cost of the teachers’ contract is estimated at just under $800,000 in the first year. The total includes giving nonunion employees identical annual increases, which the board also granted.
In other action, the board hired four women for newly created positions as “transformation specialists” to work with students, staff and families “to verify that a high-quality educational experience occurs every day, in every school,” Allison said in a prepared statement.
The women and the jobs they are leaving are: Peggy Savage, curriculum director for North Canton schools; Jody Ditcher, principal of Warstler Elementary in Plain schools; Lori Kiefer-Davila, most recently director of curriculum and instruction for Massillon schools; and Ann Bartley, principal of Schreiber Elementary in Canton.
“We will soar higher than excellent,” Bartley said.
The four will be paid a salary of $94,080 each.
Ross-Freeman noted the absence of men and minorities among the new administrators.
The board also hired Chastity Trumpower as Schreiber’s new principal at a salary of $79,868. She most recently held the same job at Parkway Elementary in Alliance.
Nancy Molnar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.