Teachers union changes leadership
Cleveland Heights Teachers Union's spring election of officers resulted in Karen Rego, first vice president for the past four years, and I changing places. Rego was elected president, and I will serve as first vice president beginning July 1. Rego will be the fourth president of our local since 1970. Glenn Altschuld, who died earlier this school year, served from 1970 to 1990; Tom Schmida served from 1990 to 2012. I was president for the last eight years.
Rego has been teaching in our district for 18 years. She has limitless energy and has forged close relationships with our members. Most of her career was as a kindergarten teacher at Oxford, though she taught many other grades as well. Rego began her CH-UH career at Wiley, and is now at Monticello. She served as building steward at Oxford for many years. She is dependable, hard-working, and leads by example.
Stability in leadership is important to our members, as many teachers spend their entire careers in our district. Since I was hired in CH-UH, 32 years ago, I believe that there has been a new superintendent, on average, about every three years. I have worked under more principals than I can remember. Although there are some administrators who spend their entire careers in our district, most do not.
For most of our members, CH-UH is home, and where they want to work. But state law contributes to the lack of mobility in the teaching profession. If a teacher with 10 years of experience wants to take a job in a different school district, that new district is required to acknowledge only five years of experience when placing that teacher on its pay scale.
For teachers in hard-to-staff areas (or those who have sought-after coaching experience), the hiring district might offer a higher salary step. For most professionals looking for new work, moving to a new employer usually means getting a better salary, an enhanced IRA, and other perks; not so for teachers.
Moving to a new school district may mean a shorter commute, but it usually means a financial loss. The result is that teachers with more than five years of experience usually stay with the same district for their entire careers. Administrators move freely from district to district without having to make the same long-term commitment.
Two of our union officers retired this year. One of them is Brian Schaner, a high school science teacher who served as [the union's] high school vice president. He started his teaching career in parochial schools, then left the profession to work as a lawyer for 15 years before returning to the classroom in 2001. Carolyn Pavel, high school French and Spanish teacher, will become the high school vice president.
Beth Rae, Noble Title 1 teacher and union elementary schools vice president, also retired. Rae spent most of her career at Coventry Elementary School, then Roxboro and Noble. Darrell Lausche, Title 1 lead at Gearity, was elected to fill Rae’s spot. Lausche had been serving as union secretary. Tiffany Underhile, science teacher at Monticello, was elected union secretary.
In another big change for our local, Monica Carter, our longtime office manager, will retire on July 1. Carter was the knowledgeable voice at the other end of the phone for anyone calling our office, and she did that, and much more, for 26 years. Carter is like family for many of our members. Her late husband, Michael, worked as a security monitor and coach in the district, and served for many years as an officer and negotiator for our union.
Although there are changes in our local leadership, there is continuity. Eight of 10 officers remain as generally elected union officials. The 10 elected officers are the guiding force behind the decisions that are made and the direction of our local.
It has been my honor to serve as president, but I attribute any success I had in that role to the support of my team and colleagues. I have every confidence that Karen Rego will do a wonderful job leading us into the future.
Ari Klein is a lifelong community member, math teacher at Cleveland Heights High School, and out-going president of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union.