With a November 20 payment of $165,192.47 from the Reynoldsburg School Board to infamous strike attorneys, Pepple & Waggoner, the final (direct) costs of the the 15-day work stoppage in the district now exceed $1.5 million, most of which went to Michigan-based strike management company, Huffmaster Crisis Response, Inc.
The sum of payments directly to Huffmaster (also dba Alternative Workforce, Inc.) amounts to $1.35 million:
The reality is that the cost would have been even higher had Huffmaster been able to fully meet the number of substitute teachers required/requested by the school district, but many schools were left understaffed and classes combined to make up for the failure by the “strike management” company to live up to the contract terms.
In addition to these expenses, the Reynoldsburg School Board also paid significant fees to Pepple & Waggoner, the law firm hired to help them stall negotiations (and subsequently bill more hours) with the Reynoldsburg Education Association. While the strike could have been avoided if the school board had been willing to engage in fair and timely negotiations, the board, under the guidance of the superintendent and the law firm, put out regular propaganda on the district website and walked away from the table while the teachers’ representatives were ready to get to work.
In 2013 calendar year, the Reynoldsburg Schools paid the Pepple & Waggoner law firm a total of $237,978.70 for legal services. In 2014, that amount has now jumped up to a whopping $452,262.30 before any billing has been done in December (the law firm billed just over $27,000 in December, 2013). The vast majority of the fees have been billed since July, when the negotiations process began to heat up — $309,316.29 — nearly 3.5 times the amount billed for the same time period in 2013 ($89,655.23).
When we take the increase to the legal services paid out so far this year ($214,283.60) and add those to the fees paid to Huffmaster ($1,351,715.48), we arrive at a grand total of $1,565,999.08 in local taxpayer dollars paid out by the Reynoldsburg Board of Education to instigate and prolong a 15-day work stoppage that was anything but “business as usual”.
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