Mayor Jackson, Teachers Union Reach Deal on Reform Plan

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A plan to drastically transform the Cleveland Metropolitan School District is a step closer to reality.  Mayor Frank Jackson and the Cleveland Teacher’s Union reached an agreement Thursday on how the plan will be implemented.

"This agreement gets us where we need to get. That is...how do we reach quality education for our children in the shortest period of time," Mayor Jackson told reporters gathered in the Red Room at City Hall.

The proposal now goes to the General Assembly in Columbus.

"I suspect it will be a challenge for a number of our members, but it's something which we will stand up there and certainly advocate that we've protected the teacher's voice throughout this entire process," said David Quolke, president of the Cleveland Teacher’s Union.

"There are some folks that wanted to see some blood-letting between the CTU and the mayor and the CEO, but I am so glad that we did not let any of that happen," said State Senator Nina Turner.

There are eight components to the plan.

The first is intervening in low-performing schools quicker.

It also factors in performance, specialized training and other experience into determining salaries. Also, more people, including parents, will be able to have input in teacher assignments and evaluations.

"Our agreement allows the district to fill teaching positions in all of our schools using hiring teams that include principals, teachers and parents, as opposed to a simple placement based on seniority," explained Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon.

Evaluation performance would be the primary factor in tenure, dismissals and layoffs.

"And uses tenure and seniority, the traditional measures as tie breakers when needed," Gordon added.

The district will set the calendar for all schools, including longer schools days and school years.

And they'll have public meetings about the plan and provide public records when asked.

"I do think it's a good idea that someone is speaking up for our schools 'cause it's just getting crazy," said parent Quiena Vanhorn.

"That's how everybody should be based, is on performance of their job, and with the transformation, for that to be an idea, that's a great idea," said parent Cathleen Kowalski.

The mayor removed an earlier provision which would have allowed the city to start future teacher contract negotiations from scratch.

Mayor Jackson says the transformation plan is one reason he’s urging voters to approve a levy this fall.

If the plan is approved, it could go into effect after June 2013.