COLUMBUS, Ohio — A long-running debate over working HVAC systems, teacher pay, school psychologists and nurses and class sizes between Columbus City Schools and the Columbus Education Association could see the start of the 2022-2023 school year without teachers.
The district has said it's decided to stop negotiations with the CEA and has presented its final offer, but union members say they're not done fighting.
"It feels like bullying. I mean, if they really have our students' best interests in, in mind, then they would continue negotiating until an agreement is made, until both parties feel satisfied. And that is not where we're at. They are dictating rather than negotiating," said Regina Fuentes, spokesperson for the CEA. "The district has come to the table with very few things, and those very few things are very punitive to teachers, rather than cooperative and motivating as far as moving along and building up our school system."
Parents and students are caught in the middle of the debate.
"Honestly, I feel kind of betrayed," said Emily Fravel, a CCS parent. "To have the school board say we're shutting down talks, this is our final offer. This is best for the kids. That's not people trying to come to an agreement. And they don't know what's best for the kids. They should never have the final say on what's best for the kids. The people who should have the final say are the people who are in classrooms every day."
Her son is a senior at Columbus Alternative High School.
"It's my son's senior year, and when 2020 happened, everybody's like, 'Oh no. What about the senior years?' They were all upset. I'm upset about that now. I want my son to have a good senior year," Fravel said.
The final offer from the district will be presented to union members on Aug. 4. If the union votes against the offer, a 10-day notice will be issued for a strike. The first day of classes is Aug. 24.