The contract between the board and its teachers union is retroactive to Sept. 1 and remains in effect through the 2017-18 school year.
The three-year agreement includes base salary increases of 2 percent each year, a $900 annual one-time payment not included on base salaries and the addition of one step on the supplemental contract salary schedule, according to a press release issued Thursday by Greg Viebranz, the district’s executive director communications and technology.
All other salary schedule step increases for experience and additional education remain the same, as does the benefits package available to WEA members, the release said.
Treasurer Bart Griffith said the total cost of the contract over three years is projected to be about $20 million, the majority of which was accounted for in the district’s latest five-year financial forecast, according to the release.
The newly approved contract replaces the WEA’s three-year contract that expired Aug. 31. That pact included salary concessions made by WEA to help the district address financial challenges it was experiencing in 2011, Viebranz said.
Westerville Board of Education President Tracy Davidson in the release said board members believe the new contract is fair and equitable and addresses several critical issues brought to the table by both the WEA and board.
“We’re extremely pleased that both parties were able to come to an agreement that not only recognizes the valuable role our teachers play in educating the students of Westerville City Schools but (also) allows the district to remain on a positive financial trajectory while maintaining its financial promises to the community,” she said in the release.
The first portion of the special board meeting this morning was a closed executive session for the purpose of discussing negotiations. Immediately following the closed session, the board voted 4-0 to approve the contract, which was approved by the union earlier this week. Board member Nancy Nestor-Baker was unable to attend the 9:30 a.m. special meeting.
For more details on the new contract, check out the Sept. 17 edition of ThisWeek Westerville News & Public Opinion.
When a dilapidated building next-door was torn down, members of the Church of the Messiah United Methodist constructed a colorful outdoor learning space for the church’s preschool.
Charity Monroe, director the Ourday Preschool at Messiah, had a vision of a space that was different from a park or a playground yet offered a very natural space adjacent to the church.
“It’s a new kind of space. I think it’s a neat and progressive space for Uptown Westerville,” she said. “The community feedback has been so positive. I’ve heard several adults say they wished they could go to preschool there.”
The vision of this new area includes uses for all groups of the church, including Sunday school, vacation bible school and adult meetings. Yet, the area is furthermore intended for all who visit the church and the Uptown area.
This winter, once church members tore down the old building on the land, they began to brainstorm ideas on what to do with the space.
It wasn’t quite big enough for a parking lot, Monroe recalled, and it was very close to Westerville Cleaners.
She originally got the idea for the outdoor classroom from a magazine article about natural outdoor play areas.
With collaboration from Ron Miller, a landscape designer and church member, they got to work over the summer on transforming the space.
“A lot of churches have playgrounds and outdoor spaces and so it was a really exciting opportunity to do something different,” said Miller.
He chose to put in a wide variety of grasses in the space, in order to educate kids about all the different species. Other plant used “were especially selected because they attract birds, butterflies and bees,” Miller said.
The space also includes a unique circular sandbox, arched entrance, dry creek bed and a small bridge.
The project held a special place in Miller’s heart, he said, because both of his sons — now 30 and 32 — attended Ourday preschool.
Additionally, three Boy Scouts from the church-sponsored Troop 560 completed their Eagle Scout projects by helping build the outdoor classroom.
“They were looking for an Eagle Scout project and this just seemed like the perfect fit,” Monroe said. “They really stepped up and created something beautiful.”
With the help of local business’ donations, the boys were able to build six planter boxes, six picnic tables and six log benches.
The Cellar Lumber Company at 137 E. College Ave. contributed about $1,000 worth of the cedar lumber for the planter boxes and Almendinger Sawmill at 5501 Caswell Road in Johnstown, helped with the log benches.
“It was really rewarding to help these outstanding young men,” Miller said. “Each project was tricky but they did a perfect job.”
The next-door business, Westerville Cleaners at 40 W Main St., provided the water source to keep the outdoor classroom green throughout the installation and ongoing seasons.
“Thank you to the Church of Messiah leaders who embraced the idea from the first presentation last winter,” said Monroe.
“The outdoor classroom is now ready to welcome us all to a lovely addition to Church of Messiah. Please visit and enjoy the outdoor space.”
At the preschool fall orientation in late August, Monroe said that almost all of the 400 parents complimented the new space.
The Church of the Messiah will have an open house to celebrate the space from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13.
For the future, Monroe said she hopes to add bird feeders, butterfly houses, and other things to help enhance the natural habitat.
The show written to be “realistic and relatable” will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20 at the high school, 303 S. Otterbein Ave.
The play stars an intimate six-student cast and the show will also be performed at a state conference in March.
For this reason, the show is completely student designed under the guidance of Derrick McPeak, technical director.
The story centers around Don Browning, a writer who returns home and decides to finally take his father’s ashes to his childhood home. But, when Don discovers his childhood home is now a grocery store, he begins traveling across Iowa in search of a proper resting place.
“It’s got a ton of heart but it’s wrapped up in a great comedy,” said South’s theater director Matt Wolfe. “It’s challenging for students because it’s a show where the actors’ chemistry makes a big difference.”
Senior James Hagerman who plays Don Browning, said that it feels very natural to play this particular character.
“There are moments where I can attribute my own experiences to the show,” he said. “It’s a very relatable and realistic play.”
Playing a family wasn’t too difficult for the cast, since they were already such good friends, said assistant director, senior Elise Wesley.
“It’s a show about a family and we are already like a family since we’ve been in the theater program so long,” she said.
The show was cast in the spring so students could work on their lines over the summer and start building the set the week before school started.
In the show, Nic Hayman, senior, plays 12 different characters. He described how that experience has made him a better actor.
“I want all of my characters to be distinct so I’ve had to learn new voices and new mannerisms,” he said. “I want people to think, ‘Wow this is a big cast,’ when it’s actually just the six of us.”
With so many characters to play, Hayman has to do some quick costume changes backstage.
“I have less than a minute to change and I still have my microphone on so I can deliver my lines,” he said.
Wolfe said it’s a good show for the back-to-school season since it’s all about relationships.
“We’re not asking audiences to sit through a three-hour history play,” said Wolfe. “It’s the type of show where at one point, you’ll say ‘Oh, that’s me,’ or ‘My dad does that too.’ “
Tickets are $6, can be purchased at the door and the show will be at Westerville South High School at 303 S. Otterbein Ave.