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Mason parents put pressure on school district to reach a deal with its teachers' union

Mason students and parents came to Tuesday's school board meeting with signs in support of the teachers
Zack Carreon
Mason students and parents came to Tuesday's school board meeting with signs in support of the teachers

With just over a month before the start of the school year, parents at Mason City Schools are asking the district's school board and superintendent to meet and agree on a new contract with its teachers' union.

The two parties have held several negotiation sessions since February and began using a federal mediator in April. No deal has been reached after meeting for the 15th time last week, and no date has been set for the next negotiation session.

RELATED: After 15 tries, Mason City Schools and teachers union still working on contract negotiations

The teachers' union, the Mason Education Association, is seeking a cost-of-living pay increase. But district leaders say teachers at Mason Schools are among the highest paid in the state, and they want the district to remain financially responsible in the upcoming fiscal year.

"The fiscally responsible balance our board has struck with our teachers' union of the past 14 years since we failed a levy in 2010 is a big reason why we can keep our staff at the top of the wage market," the Mason School Board said in a statement released last week. "Other districts face massive budget deficits and have to consider salary freezes or layoffs, like Cincinnati Public Schools, Mt. Healthy, Middletown, and Centerville have recently experienced."

During a school board meeting Tuesday night, several parents expressed support for the teachers' union and implored the board to set a meeting date and agree to a pay raise.

"Our teachers deserve to come back to school with a new contract. If not, and they choose to strike, this community will support them and you and the superintendent will have to answer for that fallout," Mason parent Wendy Spatz said.

RELATED: Mt. Healthy Schools plans to make changes and pursue a levy amid its fiscal emergency

While some parents said they understood the district's desire to save money in the face of inflation, they still want to see the district give Mason teachers their desired raise because of the positive experiences many students and parents have had with them.

"Nobody knows who came up with the Big Red Machine, but everybody knows who the components were — Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez. They all got paid. They all fought for it, but they all made money commensurate with their talents. They were the best baseball team ever and they were paid like that," Marc Amazon, a parent whose children are recent graduates of Mason Schools told the board. "I think these teachers deserve it, they deserve our support."

A spokesperson for Mason City Schools says the two parties have not yet agreed on when to meet for their next negotiation session but they're working with the federal mediator to determine a date.

Mason students head back to school in mid-August.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.