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Edison Local Schools kicked off the new school year on a positive note after ratifying a contract with its teachers’ union.

   The school board held its regular meeting on Aug. 23, one day prior to the first day of class, at Edison High School in Richmond and approved a three-year deal with the Edison Local Education Association. The district’s 110 teachers will receive a 3-percent pay increase along with a $650 signing bonus payable in December under the deal, but Superintendent Bill Beattie said that is only for one year since the potential sale or closure of the Energy Harbor Corp.’s Sammis Plant in Stratton has left financial matters at a standstill.

  “There was a one-year agreement on the finances due to the situation with the power plant, but we will be re-opening discussion on salaries in the spring once we know more,” he said.

   Last March, Energy Harbor announced it was either deactivating or selling the plant sometime in 2023 and the district has been mulling how the change will impact real estate and public utility property taxes moving forward. School leaders have said the district could stand to lose upwards of $2 million in property taxes while the public utility tax losses were unknown. Edison will remain unaffected over the next year but could see an impact in 2024.

   Meanwhile, leaders agreed to adjust some language within the three-year pact and Beattie said everyone seemed pleased with the outcome.

   “I think both sides were satisfied at the end,” he said. “We met five or six times and they were very good negotiations. Both representatives came to the table and made an agreement.”

   The board also agreed to grant administrative secretaries the same wages as the ELEA agreement.

   In other matters, the district received an estimated $135,000 grant through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to improve school safety measures. Beattie said new cameras and access systems will be added to ensure students and staff can work in a secure environment.

   “We applied for a grant through the state which was up to $50,000 per building and were awarded $50,000 for Edison, but we didn’t apply for the full amount at the others,” he explained.

    The district received about $41,379 for John Gregg Elementary and slightly more than $43,462 for Stanton Elementary.

   “It’s going to be used for additional cameras and a new fob system for entry into each building,” Beattie added, saying the pandemic has slowed down supplies and work will be done once materials are received. He noted that the new cameras and fob systems may not be up and running until the next school year.

   Among other action, the board:

–Approved Marie Highfield, Karen Edmond, Karen Barcus and Anthony Forte as substitute teachers and named Emma Gallagher as a substitute aide, cook, custodian and NBC on the classified list. Leaders also approved the transportation department’s sub list;

 –Approved supplemental contracts to Lori Kinney, volunteer assistant band director; Jason Ensinger, science department chair; Collin Skeeles and George Ash, junior high football; Kayleigh Fisher, freshman volleyball; Alicia Hartman, cross country assistant; and Wendy Lesnansky and Paula Lucas, volunteer assistant cross country;

–Accepted resignations from EHS computer teacher Josh Haspel and bus driver Terry Gooch;

 –Hired Faith Hoobler as an intervention specialist at Stanton, Amber Ankrom as a fifth- and sixth-grade reading teacher at John Gregg and George Ash, Danah Beaver and Erik Kaufman respectively as special education, art and computer teachers at EHS;

–Heard from Assistant Superintendent Julie Kireta, who reported that the number of students using the E-CAT online education system has dropped, meaning more have returned to in-school learning. District Director of Special Education and Early Childhood Jamie Angelini also said preschool numbers were up with 70 enrolled at Stanton and 54 at John Gregg;

–Set the next regular meeting for Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. at John Gregg;

–Announced a special strategic planning session for Sept. 29 at 6 p.m.

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