Schare speaks at Statehouse; resident asks school board to
unite against bill
By PAMELA WILLIS
Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2011
6:24 PM EST
The recent debate over Senate Bill 5's changes to collective
bargaining sparked discussion at last week's meeting of the
Worthington school board.
Board members met Monday, Feb. 28 at the Worthington
Board President Marc Schare spoke Feb. 15 at the Statehouse
in favor of the bill that many teachers and other union
workers are protesting.
Schare made it clear at the beginning of his testimony --
which appears on his website,
mschare.com -- that "these views may or may not
represent the views of my colleagues on Worthington's board
or any employee of the district."
He said, "I am supportive of the requirement for collective
bargaining reform." He also said there were parts of SB5
"that could be improved."
"We need to revamp the way that teachers are compensated and
we need to treat them like the professionals they are," he
said in his testimony. "SB5 says that teacher pay will be
based on merit without really defining what that means, so
let me offer an opinion: Market forces must be allowed to
work in the education sector. Teachers who are excellent at
what they do or who are scarce are worth more.
"I reluctantly conclude that collective bargaining reform is
a necessary first step if we are ever to see the changes
necessary to make our education system competitive in the
21st century," he said.
He told the committee in closing that collective bargaining
reform might not necessarily reduce expenditures in public
"Letting market forces prevail can cut both ways," he said.
"The societal imperative is that we attract great teachers;
pay what we must, but only what we must; and allow the free
market to work its magic on this critical public service."
At last week's meeting, school board member David Bressman
said, "I want to make it clear, if any person from this
board testifies on this issue, they do it as an individual,
not for me.
"I have my own opinions on Senate Bill 5 and speak only for
myself," he said.
Bressman did not share his opinions after that statement,
but board member Charlie Wilson shared his views on the
Wilson said he was asked to testify at the Statehouse, but
the testimony time conflicted with a class he was teaching.
"I think this is a critical issue to our community," Wilson
said. "The bill could end the practice of paying teachers
more for advanced degrees. I think it is time to turn our
efforts into keeping teaching a profession that is admired
He said he had heard from young people recently that "the
current poisonous atmosphere has convinced them not to be
"I'm tired of supporters of Senate Bill 5 blaming unions for
contracts," Wilson said. "Contracts are signed by management
as well as union employees ... Our biggest problem in this
state is not getting rid of deadbeat teachers; it is in
replacing retiring teachers with good teachers, and those
teachers need to have a voice in their contracts."
Former board member and longtime Worthington resident Abramo
Ottolenghi told board members they should come to a
consensus with a resolution against Senate Bill 5, although
he admitted the request was probably "impossible."
He quoted President Ronald Reagan, who said, "Where free
unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is
"I feel freedom is essential," Ottolenghi said. "When
freedom is taken away from even one of us, it is taken away
from all of us. I think you will rue the day when you lose
the ability to deal with your whole staff collectively.
"Senate Bill 5 is bad for the school district and bad for
Ohio," he said.
Treasurer Jeff McCuen said if Senate Bill 5 passes, it could
have "sweeping changes for collective bargaining in the
"I believe there are positives and negatives to the current
bill, but I really need to see what finally becomes law
before determining the effect on Worthington schools," he
He said the district's current teachers' contract calls for
a staff contribution of 14 percent of health insurance
premiums. The current total premium is $493.47 monthly for
single coverage and $1,332.43 for family plans.
The current employee deductibles are $1,500 for single
coverage and $3,000 for family coverage, McCuen said.
The district offsets those deductibles by contributing 70
percent to teachers' Health Savings Accounts.
"It is my understanding the original SB5 called for a 20
percent employee contribution to premiums, but the revised
bill changed it to a 15 percent minimum," McCuen said. "We
have gone from 6 percent to 14 percent in the last certified
negotiated agreement and it would be reasonable to assume we
would work with our employee group to have additional
changes over time."
McCuen said he thinks state support for schools overall will
be reduced again.
"I think the state will be giving schools and especially
Worthington substantially less revenue in the next biennial
budget," he said. "The governor's budget on March 15 should
give us all a bit more insight."