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Columbus City Schools Board meets as teachers’ union threatens to strike

Columbus City Schools Board of Education said they made the Columbus Education Association a “final offer” last week for pending negotiations.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Despite the district saying it would not be discussed publicly, Columbus City Schools Board President Jennifer Adair and Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon talked about the looming threat of a teacher strike during a board meeting Tuesday evening.

Late last week, the Columbus City Schools Board of Education said they made the Columbus Education Association a “final offer” for its pending negotiations.

RELATED: Columbus teachers union threaten 10-day strike amid contract negotiations

But CEA President John Coneglio said there is still more to discuss and doesn’t consider the district’s offer to be “final.”

“The district gave us a so-called ‘final offer’ in an attempt to dictate rather than negotiate with us,” Coneglio told 10 Investigates Tuesday. “Our union is going to reject the bullying process and we are going to fight for the Columbus City Schools our students deserve. We’ve said this over and over again. We’d like the board to come back to the negotiating table.”

Coneglio added: “We want smaller class sizes, even though… it’s going to be no additional cost to the district. We wanted to support professionals like nurses and school psychologists and things like that to lower caseloads, art and (physical education) in every building; instead, the district did a 30 percent increase in the administrators that they hired.”

CEA has also raised concerns about the conditions of many school buildings, adding that maintenance needs to be a priority.

“The district, I believe, they walked away when we started talking about what’s good for students,” Coneglio said.

CEA plans to have a vote Thursday to authorize a 10-day strike notice. Coneglio said it doesn’t mean a strike is imminent, but it does begin the process for the union to use that if necessary.

The Columbus City Schools’ Board of Education announced on July 28th that it ‘extended a final offer’ to the union representing Columbus teachers.

“The Board and CEA began contract negotiations in March. The Board and CEA negotiations team met on numerous occasions and bargained in good faith for four months. As negotiations progressed, we resolved many issues to the benefit of our students and our teachers. Out of respect to our teachers and the negotiations process, the Board has given CEA a final offer on the remaining issues,” Board President Jennifer Adair said in a statement sent by the district.

The release sent by the district also said: “while cannot share the details of the final offer, several key issues are addressed:

Exceeds the average of state and local teaching salary increases,

Includes new and innovative leave benefits that no other school district in Central Ohio offers, and

Provides creative opportunities for our teachers to grow professionally in their career with the district.

There can be no doubt that the last three years have been challenging for our teachers. The elements of this offer demonstrate our appreciation for and recognition of their commitment to our students, families, and school district.

Further, the Board agrees with our teachers that we should have air conditioning in all our buildings. Independent of and before the negotiations began, the Board took action to reach this goal, authorizing the use of federal ESSER funds to update HVAC systems in the remaining 16 school buildings without building-wide air conditioning.

We look forward to CEA’s approval of this offer so that we can all focus on welcoming students back to school on August 24.”

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