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Columbus students return to school after teachers' union approves new deal

Approximately 71% of the union voted on Sunday to accept the new three-year contract.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Students in Columbus City Schools returned to classrooms Monday after members of the teachers’ union approved a contract, ending a strike that began a week ago.

The Columbus Education Association voted Sunday to accept an agreement created by the union and the Columbus Board of Education.

Approximately 71% of the union voted to accept the new three-year contract after members at Huntington Park reviewed and discussed details.

In a statement from the teachers' union, highlights of the new three-year agreement include:

  • A contractual guarantee that all student learning areas will be climate controlled no later than the start of the 2025-2026 school year, including installation of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning in buildings currently without HVAC, and in buildings that currently only have partial HVAC
  • Reductions in class size caps in all grade bands, lowering the number of students in every classroom by two over the course of the contract;
  • The first-ever limitations on the number of buildings assigned to each elementary art, music and P.E. teacher, with scheduling intended for one specialist per subject area per building;
  • The first-ever contractual limitation on the number of CEA positions that can be outsourced to out-of-town corporations, thereby ensuring that our students are educated by experienced professionals from our local community; and
  • A ground-breaking paid parental leave program for our teachers, as well as salary increases for each of the next three years which will help attract and retain the high-quality educators that our students deserve.
  • You can read the full agreement here.

“Countless parents, community members, faith leaders, students of all ages, and our union brothers and sisters from around the state and country joined us on that line. This contract shows that when we fight together, we win together," said CEA spokesperson Regina Fuentes.

"This is a contract that keeps students at the center of all we do and supports our board's educational mission for Columbus City Schools. Together with CEA leadership, we have created an agreement that recognizes the critical role all CEA members play in achieving our mission," Columbus Board of Education President Jennifer Adair said.

On Aug. 21, the teachers’ union voted to strike after a contract agreement with the school board could not be reached following months of meetings. This was the district’s first strike since 1975.

The union pressed for safer buildings, better heating and air conditioning, smaller class sizes, and a more well-rounded curriculum that includes art, music and physical education. The school board said its offer put children first.

The strike led to the district’s 47,000 students learning remotely for their first three days of school.

The school board and teachers’ union reached a conceptual agreement on Thursday after nearly 14 hours of negotiations and discussions with the oversight of a federal mediator.

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