COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Education Association has put the Columbus school board on notice. If no agreement is reached, teachers will strike at midnight on Aug. 22.
The notice, the first of its kind according to the State Employment Relations Board, is another signal that teachers are willing to walk.
Jennifer Adair, the president of the school board, issued a statement saying:
"The Board's offer is comprehensive, fair, and respectful. It is responsive to specific concerns raised by CEA and includes respectful economic terms. But CEA has continued to refuse to provide a response to all remaining issues. With this lack of good faith efforts by CEA, we believe announcing a strike is premature and a disservice to our school community."
When asked how a strike is benefiting students, a spokesperson for the teachers' union defended its notice to strike.
"I would say not striking hurts the children than we are taking their 'take it or leave it' offer and walking away from our kids. That is not a stance that we want to take," said CEA spokesperson Regina Fuentes.
The union contends talks broke off Thursday because the district wanted to negotiate non-economic and economic issues at the same time.
The union says that was not what was agreed upon back in June and that each one would be negotiated separately.
Among the sticking points the union and the district are battling over include:
- Smaller class sizes
- Full-time art, music, and physical education teachers at the elementary level
- Functional heating and air-conditioning inside classrooms
- A cap on the number of class periods during the school day
John Reinicke, who currently has two children who attend Columbus schools, said he is frustrated with the school board, administrative leaders and the teachers’ union.
“Frankly, I don’t trust any of them,” Reinicke said.
The school board has a $68 million bond issue and a 4.7-mill permanent improvement levy on the Nov. 8 ballot. Some of that money would help pay for the maintenance of school buildings.
Kelly Smith also has two kids who attend school in the district. She wondered why the teachers’ union has been silent on the issue.
“I haven’t seen them support a ballot levy. That’s the actual solution to the problem with the building,” she said.
Parents are also preparing for the potential of having their kids do remote learning as a strike looms.
“I can’t think of anything worse right now than another year. Families and students don’t know what’s going to happen,” Smith said.