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Thousands Spent on Legal Fees for Teacher Contract Negotiations
SPRINGBORO -- Taxpayers are paying because schools boards and teachers can't agree on a new contract.
That's the case in just about every school district, but especially in Springboro right now.
"What's unfortunate is that every district that has a negotiation unit," said Kelly Kohls, Springboro Community School Board President, "Or has a union has to go through these negotiations every couple years."
Kohls doesn't like spending the district's money on negotiations.
"Every couple years we have to allocate in our budget an enormous amount of taxpayer funds that are redirected from education issues and needs to negotiation," said Kohls.
Just for May, the board spent more than $35,000 on legal fees to attorneys.
"It is an enormous expense and it is unfortunate but that's a part of our budget," said Kohls.
"That's a terrible use of taxpayer money," said David Bowman, a Springboro parent.
"Seems like an awful lot of money and a big waste that certainly could be going for better, better things in our school district," said Joe Steuer, Springboro resident.
That $35,000 is just a drop in the bucket compared to the $250,000 the school board has set aside to spend on these negotiations.
"We would be irresponsible not to hire legal counsel," said Kohls. "And irresponsible to the taxpayers if we didn't allocate a lot of central office time to doing this service. It's part of education these days."
"To say they have no choice is to not be honest with the voters," said Bowman. "And to not be honest with the people of Springboro and that's, that's truly disappointing."
We asked the Springboro Education Association, which represents the teachers, about this dispute.
In a statement they told us, "Certainly our preference is that the resources being spent on outside agencies stay within the school district and be extended to our teachers, in order to provide a competitive compensation package."
"I agree that the expense is tremendous for school districts," said Kohls. "It is likely seen as just one of those things that they have to do, they really don't have a choice, they have to seek the expertise in negotiations."
But the board's reasons aren't enough for some parents.
"It's about choices," said Bowman. "They're choosing to spend our money in ways that aren't wise and that's a problem."
Several more negotiation dates have been set for July and August.
Both sides are trying to avoid a strike, but have not yet come up with an agreement.
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