Teacher Contract Turmoil in Rochester

Local News

Dawn Hohmann has been an eighth grade science teacher at Rochester’s School of the Arts for the last decade. “I love the kids, love their youth and their energy.” But, her job doesn’t come without challenges. “The current situation is not very good. We’ve got teachers increasingly leaving mid school year because they see no hope in sight,” explained Rochester Teachers Association President, Adam Urbanski.
Hohmann’s one of close to 3000 teachers fighting for what they say are school improvements in the current contract negotiations. R.T.A. is proposing changes including school safety improvements, increased needed services for students, smaller class size, clarification on the length of the school day, and preparation time for all teachers.

The district suggests an extended school year without compensation, as well as seven hour work days. Currently, teachers work 6.5 hours. It’s also proposed increasing class sizes in music and arts, reducing bereavement leave and reducing health benefits. “They’re not responding to the issues that teachers are saying are interfering with good teaching and good learning in our schools.”

In a statement, a district spokesman said “the district will not comment on specific proposals , which would violate our agreement with R.T.A. not to negotiate in public. However, negotiations are going on in good faith regarding the teacher’s contract and all matters at issue with R.T.A.”

Teachers like Dawn Hohmann hope so. She’s never thought about leaving Rochester schools. But if things don’t change, she’s worried she won’t have a choice. “It would be really difficult for me to leave because I don’t want to leave them. I feel like I’m making a difference, a positive difference in a child’s life.”

Urbanski said the Union’s contacted the Public Employment Relations Board to mediate negotiations.

The current contract expired June 30th.

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