Belpre teachers show solidarity at BOE meeting

Contracts expired June 30, negotiations continue since August

The Belpre Board of Education and those in attendance stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of Monday’s board meeting. Teachers turned out in force as a show of solidarity as contract negotiations between Belpre City Schools and the Belpre Education Association continue. (Photo by Michael Erb)

BELPRE — Teachers turned out in force at Monday’s Belpre Board of Education meeting as contract negotiations continue with Belpre City Schools.

Bill Van Pelt, president of the Belpre Education Association, said teacher contracts ended June 30, and negotiations on new contracts began in August.

“Both sides have worked diligently and vigorously to reach an agreement, and to this point we have not reached an agreement,” he said. “We are still operating under the old contracts.”

Though the contracts were not a public discussion item at Monday’s meeting, Van Pelt said the association asked teachers to attend “as a show of solidarity.” The Belpre Education Association has 65 members and represents all Belpre City Schools teachers, he said.

Superintendent Tony Dunn said he was pleased with the large turnout Monday, as staff, teachers and community members filled seats and stood along the back walls of the Stone Administration Building gymnasium where the meeting was held.

Bill Van Pelt, president of the Belpre Education Association, listens during Monday’s Belpre Board of Education meeting. Van Pelt said teacher contracts expired in June and negotiations for new contracts began in August. The association will meet with board members and administrators again Dec. 3. (Photo by Michael Erb)

“I personally am always happy to see people come to the board meetings. It lets them see the business of the board,” he said. “I’m happy to see teachers here all the time.”

Dunn said there was little he could discuss about the contracts.

“We’re still in negotiations with the Belpre Education Association. We have another meeting with them in December,” Dunn said.

Board President Brenda Church declined to comment.

Van Pelt said while there is no deadline for a new contract to be ratified, all involved want it to occur as quickly as possible. The next negotiation meeting is Dec. 3, he said.

“We are confident that both sides will come together with an agreement,” he said.

Following Monday’s meeting, the board issued a statement, saying it “is looking forward to our next round of negotiations with the Belpre Education Association. We believe that we will reach an agreement that will serve both the teachers and our community well. We appreciate all the hard work and dedication of our teachers. We look forward to a speedy conclusion to negotiations.”

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