BLANCHESTER — Teachers have spoken and they want things to return to the way they used to be.
During Monday night’s Blanchester School Board meeting, Michelle Elston, an eighth-grade history teacher and President of the Blanchester Education Association, spoke to the board about what teachers been dealing with.
“I remember when Blanchester Local Schools was the best place on the planet to work. Everyone was proud to be a Wildcat. It wasn’t about the money. We’ve always been there and we have traded financial rewards for being a part of something special,” said Elston.
She stated that there is no price to the benefits of working with a staff that cares and in which teachers feel appreciated.
They never used to feel like they were divided into teams of “us vs. them”, according to Elston.
“I’m not going to lie, the atmosphere of the past few years has been dreadful,” she said. “As a staff, we’ve been drug through the wringer because of some very unpleasant situations at our schools. Throughout this whole process, we’ve been mostly silent bystanders stuck in a situation not of our choosing.”
She said their organization has been pursued by members of the community to make negative statements in regards to the situations or to seek action.
“All we want is to return to the exceptionally special relationship that we use to share,” she said.
She said that on May 1, the association entered into negotiations with board with a positive attitude and a willingness to work with the board to change language that would be beneficial to the district.
“Your initial offer was insulting,” she told the board. “It made us feel that you think we’re being overpaid and that we do not deserve the salary and benefits that we’re already making.”
She spoke of the variety of good things Blanchester’s educators have done to benefit and support students. This includes attending events to support the students, starting help programs for students, and taking part in school programs in their off hours.
A problem they’re facing is that their pay has caused some teachers to leave. She added that the pay range for Blanchester teachers is among the lowest in the area.
“Let’s work together and come to an agreement. That’s fair. Let’s work towards a goal to employ and maintain highly qualified people,” she concluded.
School board members thanked Elston for speaking and the teachers for expressing their concerns.
Board President Todd Bandow said the board would like for things to continue going forward and make things better between the two groups.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574