When most people hear about workers going on strike, their first thought is that the breakdown in negotiations is about pay. This belief is rampant among those who are uneducated about the current strike involving Reynoldsburg teachers.  The Reynoldsburg superintendent seems to be among that group of individuals who still believes this is about pay and recently wrote that the latest offer by the teachers “included $1 million more in guaranteed raises compared to the board’s most recent proposal”, though she does not provide a detailed analysis of the two proposals to defend this claim.

That’s why we are here.  We have completed an in-depth analysis of the two proposals to shed some light on what is true and what is false about the financial impact of each side’s proposal.  First, the superintendent’s claims of a difference of $1 million more in guaranteed raises when compared to the board’s proposal cannot be substantiated.  While it is accurate that the Reynoldsburg proposal values annual raises over merit pay, the actual difference is in the neighborhood of $550-$650,000 in guaranteed raises over the life of the contract based on the base pay raises.  In practice, and because the merit pay component proposed by the school board is linked to the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System, certain merit pay bonuses are effectively “guaranteed”, lowering that number even further.  Most importantly, what we’ve discovered is that the Reynoldsburg Education Association (REA) wants to put forth a proposal that will ultimately save the school district well over $100,000 – and possibly $200,000 – over the 3-year deal.

The two proposals are close to being financially equal in only two scenarios: 1) If the REA is forced to put in a merit pay component (this was a concession by the REA negotiators in their latest offer), or 2) If teacher performance does not increase as a result of the merit pay component (in which case the school board’s compensation model would be considered a failure).

Based on our analysis, which we explain in extensive detail below, any claim that the teachers are striking to hold out for a better financial contract must be deemed completely false.

Our findings make it clear that this strike is not about money, while the administration keeps pushing the notion of fiscal responsibility.  Given that our analyses contradict the administration, the teachers deserve to be taken at their word – they are fighting to improve the teaching and learning conditions for Reynoldsburg’s children.

[Editorial disclaimer: As a courtesy to you, our loyal readers, we need to let you know that this post is long.  Very long.  We describe the methodology we used to analyze the contract proposals and describe six of our analyses in detail.  Rest assured, these will be here for you if you wish to return and read them completely.  If you’re in a hurry and aren’t much for statistics, you can skip to Analysis #6 and our conclusion at the bottom – we won’t be offended.]

Our analysis of the contract proposals are based on the latest details gathered by the Columbus Dispatch through a public records request.  Here are the pertinent details:

Reynoldsburg School Board

  • 2 percent base pay raise in the first year, a 1.7 percent raise in the second year and a 1.5 percent raise in the third year
  • Teachers would get step increases, which are given for years of service and education
  • Performance-based bonuses that would be available in the second and third years of the pact: 3 percent for those rated “accomplished,” 2 percent for “skilled” and 1 percent for “developing”

Reynoldsburg Education Association

  • 2.75 percent base pay raise in the first year, with 2 percent raises in the second and third year
  • Performance-based bonuses that would be available in the second and third years of the pact: 1 percent for “accomplished,” 0.75 percent for “skilled” and 0.5 percent for “developing”; bonuses would be based on a percentage of the lowest salary of the pay schedule ($39,580 under their proposal) rather than the individual teacher’s annual salary

NOTE: The Dispatch article does not explicitly state the the REA proposal included step increases.  For our analysis, we included estimated step increases in both proposals modeled after the recently-expired contract.

Other pertinent information used in our analysis:

  • Final Summative Rating information from 2013-14 for Reynoldsburg teachers
  • Median teacher salary for Reynoldsburg teachers as reported to Ohio Department of Education for 2013-14
  • Salary schedule from previous contract between Reynoldsburg City Schools and REA; used to estimate step increases for next three year cycle

Before we begin to explain the process we used to analyze the financial details of the contract, it is important to understand the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) that leads to the Final Summative Ratings earned by teachers and that is at the heart of the merit pay component of the proposals.

Under OTES, teachers “who spend at least fifty per cent of the time employed providing student instruction” are required to be evaluated annually.  Through this process, teachers receive a final rating of either Accomplished, Skilled, Developing, or Ineffective.  House Bill 362, passed on June 3, allows school districts to evaluate teachers who receive a rating of accomplished or skilled on a less frequent cycle (accomplished every three years; skilled every two years).  We can find no evidence that Reynoldsburg will be exercising this flexibility allowed by the new law and our analysis assumes teachers will be evaluated and receive a new rating annually.  While half of a teacher’s final rating is determined by their evaluator (typically a principal), the other half is determined by “student growth”.  Without going into an extensive discussion of this (read about Student Growth Measures on the ODE website), the next couple of years will see massive changes to the process of calculating student growth.  The implementation of new unseen standardized tests aligned to Ohio’s New Learning Standards (Ohio has re-branded the Common Core State Standards) and the anticipated addition of new, also unseen tests at the high school grades means that this is an extremely volatile time to tie student test results to a teacher’s evaluation.

At the end of 2013-2014 school year, as required by law, Reynoldsburg reported the ratings of 318 classroom teachers to the Ohio Department of Education.  The exact breakdown of the ratings (as it is pertinent to the analysis of the merit pay proposals) is as follows:

  • Accomplished: 68 (21%)
  • Skilled: 199 (63%)
  • Developing: 42 (13%)
  • Ineffective: 9 (3%)

[Editorial note: 84% of Reynoldsburg’s teachers already received one of the top two ratings, so any stated “need” for merit pay deserves to be questioned.]

For an exact financial analysis of the proposals, we would need to know the exact identity of each educator along with the rating they received and their place on the salary schedule for last year.  Absent that very personal and private information that is between the employer and employee, we have decided to use information that is publicly available via the Ohio Department of Education and most recent REA contract.

From the Ohio Department of Education, we obtained last year’s median teacher income amount, $49,228.00 .  This figure is appropriate for the analysis as it perfectly splits the salaries of the teachers (half above, half below).  This figure is the starting point for the analysis.

From the REA contract, we used the previous salary schedule to estimate the step increases that teachers would receive on an annual basis (as indicated are included in the latest proposals).  The average step would increase slightly for each of the three years of the new contract (depending on % raises), so we have noted the different amounts when necessary.  An important point to note is that the previous salary schedule did not include step advancements for every single year of employment.  Step advancements were standard for each year through year 15 (depending on educational degree), but then only occurred after that at year 27.  The overall effect is that only approximately half of the teachers received step increases (average year of experience for 2013-14 was 13 years; step advancements were frozen in the past two years by the agreement of the REA).

We analyzed the figures in multiple ways as we’ll detail below.

Analysis #1:

  • Proposals as detailed in the Columbus Dispatch, except no step advancements included
  • No changes to teacher ratings

In this most basic analysis, we simply plugged in the median income and teacher ratings from 2013-2014 and ran the numbers using the base pay raises and merit pay components. Under this scenario, the REA contract proposal ends up costing more than the school board’s proposal by $75,561.31 over the three year contract.  Here are the three year salary totals for both proposals:

  • School Board: $49,341,501.13
  • REA: $49,417,027.44

Notice that the difference of $75,56.31 represents a scant 0.15% of the overall total salary figures.

This analysis is flawed and can be dismissed for a two key reasons.  First, it does not include projected step advancements which have an impact on the base pay and subsequent merit pay bonuses.  Second, the premise of the inclusion of merit pay is to improve teacher ratings, not hold them flat.  A projection in which the teacher ratings remain flat would mean that the school board’s proposal is a failure and the underlying assumption that merit pay improves teaching is false.  An analysis of the school board’s proposal must include the assumption that the teacher’s individual ratings will improve and the budget must be planned accordingly.

Analysis #2:

  • Proposals as detailed in the Columbus Dispatch, except no step advancements included & REA merit pay concession eliminated
  • No changes to teacher ratings

In this basic follow-up analysis, we used the same data as in Analysis #1, but we removed the merit pay piece that REA included.  The REA negotiations team would like a contract that includes no merit pay component, so this analysis looks at the impact of removing that entirely. Under this scenario, the school board’s proposal ends up costing more than REA’s proposal by $114,958.38 over the three year contract.  Here are the three-year salary totals for both proposals:

  • School Board: $49,341,501.13
  • REA: $49,226,542.75

The gap is again small, representing a 0.23% difference of the overall total salary figures.

This analysis is also flawed for the same reasons noted above – steps need to be estimated and improved ratings for teachers are an underlying assumption that increases the cost of the school board’s proposal.

Analysis #3:

  • Proposals as detailed in the Columbus Dispatch, except eliminated REA merit pay component
  • Estimated step advancements for all teachers
  • No changes to teacher ratings

For this analysis, we used the same initial data as before, but made the following modifications:

  • Removed the REA merit pay increases
  • Used step advancement amounts based on the base salary proposals and the prior contract, adjusted for each year.  After calculating the average step advancement amount contained within the salary schedules, we included that figure for all teachers, not just those that would actually be receiving step advancements in a given year.  This use gives us a “high-end” estimate.

After running those figures, the totals for each proposal are:

  • School Board: $53,824,592.18
    REA: $53,719,334.90

Once again the gap is very small, with the board’s proposal costing $118,515.22 more, a 0.22% difference of the overall figures.

While this analysis gets us closer to an accurate projection, it still has two understandable flaws that we can try to correct.  The inclusion of the step advancement for every teacher puts the projection too high.  We change this in the next analysis.  The second flaw is one that we have carried over from the first two analyses – the lack of factoring teacher improvement in their rating.  We will correct the step advancement issue in Analysis 4 and add in the teacher rating changes in Analysis 5 as it needs to be isolated and explained in greater detail since it is at the root of the impasse in negotiations.

Analysis #4:

  • Proposals as detailed in the Columbus Dispatch, except eliminated REA merit pay component
  • Estimated step advancements for half of teachers
  • No changes to teacher ratings

This analysis has only one change from Analysis 3 above – instead of applying the step advancement cost to all teachers, we halved the amount to represent an application of step advancements to only half of the teaching population to better reflect the salary schedule.

After running those figures, the totals for each proposal are:

  • School Board: $51,583,046.66
  • REA: $51,472,938.83

Once again the gap is very small, and once again the board’s proposal costs more — $105,257.28  — a 0.20% overall difference.

Analysis #5:

  • Proposals as detailed in the Columbus Dispatch, except eliminated REA merit pay component
  • Estimated step advancements for half of teachers
  • Conservative estimated changes to teacher ratings

In this analysis, we look at the projected changes that the board might be expecting to see as a result of the implementation of merit pay bonuses.  We did not address this in the first four analyses as we wanted to isolate and implement the variables one at a time.  This analysis gets us even closer to what we would expect to see occur when using the school board’s assumption that teacher ratings will improve with the implementation of merit pay.  For this analysis, we have to project what level of increase might be expected in teacher ratings as presumed by the school board will occur.  We have projected modest increases for each of the top two ratings with corresponding decreases to the bottom two, making the assumption (much to our dismay we can only make an educated guess here) that a teacher’s rating will not drop, and following the school board’s premise that teachers will be enticed to improve by the lure of a small financial incentive.  Our projected changes in rating are:

  • Accomplished: 68 increases to 88 (10% of Skilled teachers improve) in year 2 and 108 in year 3
  • Skilled: 199 increases to 195 (11 Developing teachers improve; 28%) in year 2 and decreases to 185 in year 3
  • Developing: 42 decreases to 31 in year 2 and 21 in year 3
  • Ineffective: 9 decreases to 4 in year 2 and stays at 4 for year 3 (eliminating this figure altogether seems unrealistic given the need to hire new teachers who are expected to struggle in their first year)

After running those figures, the totals for each proposal are:

  • School Board: $51,642,001.48
  • REA: $51,472,938.83

Under this scenario, the cost of the school board’s proposal increases while the REA proposal remains constant and predictable for budgeting purposes. The board’s proposal now costs $169,062.65 more than the REA proposal over the three year contract.

Analysis #6:

  • Proposals as detailed in the Columbus Dispatch, except eliminated REA merit pay component
  • Estimated step advancements for half of teachers
  • “Aggressive” estimated changes to teacher ratings

Since the merit pay component is the key centerpiece of the school board’s proposal, we wanted to run an analysis that projected significant growth by teachers who would improve their rating due to the 1% bonus they could receive for doing so.  For this analysis our projected changes in rating are:

  • Accomplished: 68 increases to 108 (20% of Skilled teachers improve) in year 2 and 108 in year 3
  • Skilled: 199 decreases to 185 (21 Developing teachers improve; 50%) in year 2 and decreases to 168 in year 3
  • Developing: 42 decreases to 21 in year 2 and 14 in year 3
  • Ineffective: 9 decreases to 4 in year 2 and decreases to 0 for year 3

After running those figures, the totals for each proposal are:

  • School Board: $51,680,360.85
  • REA: $51,472,938.83

The cost of the school board’s proposal increases once again and the REA proposal remains constant. The board’s proposal now costs $207,422.02 more than the REA proposal over the three year contract.  In the end, the difference between the two proposals is only 0.4%.  Furthermore, under analyses #5 and #6, the average teacher salary ends up marginally higher in the school board’s proposal than in REA’s.


Based on our analyses, specifically #5 and #6 which are projections of the model that the Reynoldsburg School Board and Superintendent are touting as necessary to the financial well-being of the district, we have to conclude that the salary schedule proposed by the Reynoldsburg Education Association is actually less expensive to the community over the length of the contract and any claims to the contrary are false.

These analyses show that the teachers are not striking over compensation.  REA members have continually stated that this is the case and these figures back up their claims.  REA has been clear that they do not want merit pay and would readily strike that small piece from their proposal, but that they are holding the line on class sizes in the district that has increased enrollment nearly by nearly 2,000 students in the last three years (25% increase over 2011-12) without a comparable increase in the number of teachers.  Reynoldsburg has the worst student-teacher ratio in all of Franklin County.  Reynoldsburg teachers have consistently tried to explain that they are standing up to improve learning conditions by instituting a cap on class sizes, reducing the number of students per teacher, and maximizing the amount of individual attention each Reynoldsburg child can receive.

It is clear this strike is not about money, while the administration keeps pushing the notion of fiscal responsibility.  Given that our analyses contradict the administration and school board’s claims, the teachers deserve to be taken at their word.

Superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning and the Reynoldsburg School Board members may be able to hide from the community, but they can’t hide from the numbers.


Feel free to contact the leaders of the school board’s negotiations team:

Andrew Swope, Board President
(614) 864-1175 (home)
(614) 882-8297 (work)

Elaine Tornero, Board Vice President
(614) 759-9735 (home)


Reynoldsburg Superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning
(614) 501-1023








  • goofproof

    I’d be curious about a correlation between teacher rankings and student characteristics such as disadvantaged, % on IEPs, subjects taught, and most important, students entering the classroom below grade level.

    Most of the OTES process is a guess at best. Usually, the system penalizes those teachers working with the most challenged students.

  • Another concerning aspect is what happens if there is a district that is in a fiscal pinch? What’s to stop the superintendent from telling the administrators basically “we cannot afford to give raises, so be sure to be very harsh this year.” The concept is so subjective as well, as different evaluators look for different things.

    Couple the fact that many principals and administrators have said that, while learning how to incorporate OTES, it will be extremely rare for a teacher to be “accomplished” makes me question the going to a merit pay system when there are wayyyyy to many variables for this to be fair (IEPS, subject, SES, etc.).

  • Keith Pritchard

    Teacher salaries look to be in 2013 from an average above $50,000 to about $90,000 per year for a 184 day year. My work year is over 300 days. Do they really think being a professional they should be unionized? These teachers are not repressed in any manner comparable to when unions were really needed. Not repressed at all I’d say. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Jim Brooks

    Kieth, Did you read the article? The REA proposal costs less than what the BOE is putting on the table. This is about politics, class sizes, and merit pay based on standardized test scores. The superintendent worked for Kasich before taking this job. Remember SB5? Tina Thomas Manning is trying to break the union. Plain and simple. And BTW, with all of her perks, she’s making around 170k a year.

  • Concerned Parent

    I agree with the idea that if you want to be considered a professional and paid like a professional then you should act like a professional. No professional can go to their boss and say I would like less work (smaller class sizes) and more pay for it. As far as merit pay or pay for performance, how many teachers in the Reynoldsburg City Schools have been terminated for poor performance in the last 10 years? I am speculating that the number is very, very low. Almost unbelievably low. I understand fast food workers, grocery store clerks and others who are not getting the work conditions and/or pay they deserve walking a picket line, but not a group of “professionals” with an average salary of over $60K, that get an an extended amount of time away from work, and excellent retirment benefits walking the picket line. It looks and sounds silly even to say it out loud.

  • Anon

    Teachers constantly bring their work home with them. While you can clock out and just go home and worry about work tomorrow morning, teachers are bringing home piles of their students’ homework to grade. They also need to plan out their entire year. Days are not equivalent to “work”. Under that logic, if you work 15 hours a day and I work 8, then we both worked 1 day, so it’s even, right? I hope you’re a troll because this seems like it would be common knowledge.

  • Keith Pritchard

    You start adding a bunch more teachers and absent merit pay the costs to the school will go up and quality of teaching goes down and union dues received will go up. The analysis does not take that in to consideration. Many countries have larger class sizes and much better results than we are getting in the US. Changes need to be made to our educational system. Someone that teaches elemental subjects does not need a masters degree, as many of them have that, it does nothing in reality to improve the education of the student. I think teaching is more of an aptitude than a learned skill. The high pay and good benefits as well as short working year attract many that are there for that reason rather than having any aptitude or real desire to be a teacher.

  • Keith Pritchard

    I would say some teachers do and some don’t. I don’t know hardly any professional that does not bring work home with them. Most people involved in any management level activity are usually at it late at night returning messages, etc. I’ve heard that before and it is nonsense thinking all teachers work more than they really do or more than others. It is just an oft repeated defensive mechanism for all intents and purposes.

  • Jim Brooks

    Kieth and Concerned Parent, your views that teachers are pushing for smaller class sizes because it’s “less work” is both cynical and misguided. Teachers want class size caps because all the research indicates that smaller class sizes equal better educational outcomes.The problem with merit pay is that it creates a divisive workplace environment and puts the teachers in the position of teaching to the test. There’s already too much standardized testing, and not enough time to teach students how to think on their own. Kieth, I’m glad you somehow know that teaching is an aptitude and not a learned skill, although research clearly shows otherwise. Until we address the overarching issue of poverty, not much is going to change comparing the USA to other countries. As far as short working year is concerned, my wife spend a good week on each side of her contracted working days in her classroom doing mandated paperwork. A lot of her time off in the summer is spent taking classes and completing continuing educational requirements that are required by law. In order to retain your teaching license, a masters degree is required. We can debate the virtues of that, but it is the law. Right now, Reynoldsburg has a high teacher turnover rate, and this strike does nothing but hurt the image of the district. The superintendent’s ego and political agenda needs to be checked, and I for one, am glad to see the teachers standing up for what they believe is best for the children of Reynoldsburg.

  • Keith Pritchard

    Research ands studies go all which way depending on the desired results of the people initiating the research and study. This is in despite of said controls that they set up to show they are being honest. Most research done is done with the intended continuation of grant money being continued in the future. This sort of problem has even resulted in the peer review process being pretty much a joke any more as it is all political in nature. I have no faith in research studies of about any kind. Solid technological research is of great value, but most studies with any complex variables that are not easily controlled are pretty much worthless. In particular educational institutions want continued enrollment to keep the money flowing in to the colleges. The best teachers I had ever had had little or no educational theory background but usually came form outside and had a very thorough knowledge of the subject they are teaching. As such, except for maybe special education teachers who really know the mental mechanics of learning much better than others as theirs is very specialized, a lot of it doesn’t seem necessary to me.

  • Mr. Lyons

    A union spokeswoman Kathy Evans accused the school board and superintendent of “continuing a divisive ideological crusade” by pushing to implement merit pay and refusing to meet union demands on raises and class size caps.
    Kathy Evans was paid $85,515 during the 2012-2013 school year, based on Ohio Department of Education data posted online by free market think tank Opportunity Ohio. Dolores Tufaro, an OEA labor relations consultant assisting with the union’s negotiations, was paid $130,633 in teacher dues in 2013.

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in Reynoldsburg was $58,682 in 2012. That’s two people per household.

  • Jim Brooks

    Keith, I don’t disagree with some of the points that you’re making. I agree with you about completely about the money and educational institutions. It’s a racket Unfortunately, the law says that if you want to remain a teacher, you must get a masters degree. It’s a given, that smaller class sizes, especially for the younger grade levels, produce better educational outcomes. A classroom of twenty first graders will get more individual attention and instruction then a group of thirty. My wife has been teaching second grade for over twenty years, and she says the cut off is around twenty four. There’s a noticeable impact on educational outcomes once you go over that threshold. In high school, class size isn’t as big a factor, although there should still be limits. Especially if one’s pay is going to be tied to testing. The superintendent seems pretty bent on getting her agenda through, for reasons that tied to her upward mobility. We’ll see how it plays out. Thanks for the discussion. Lets hope it get resolved soon.

  • Keith Pritchard

    My opinion is anyone teaching 2nd graders and the grades around it are doing it because they love to teach. I don’t have any love for the school boards nor the unions and I’m in a different district and really have nothing to do with education anymore since the kids are gone, but saw some bad actions when they were. Usually the best teacher that sticks their head out gets it from all sides. Agendas are seemingly always misplaced to me.

  • Jim Brooks

    What’s your point? The superintendent is making 160k.

  • Mr. Lyons

    Good question. Just letting teachers know that their Union Dues are paying very large salaries for Union Reps that work less then they do. Why is a Union Rep getting paid almost as much as a School Superintendent? Couldn’t some of their pay go back to help the teachers rather then the Union Reps?

  • thejackal

    I agree with you whole heartedly. I don’t know where the ideas that teachers don’t make much comes from. Maybe they don’t, but not in Reynoldsburg. Other districts are in much worse shape, but they’re not striking.

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