COLUMBUS, Ohio — After days of silence between the Columbus school board and teachers' union, the two groups have agreed to meet twice this week for continued negotiations.
The Columbus Board of Education released a statement Monday requesting that the federal mediator contact the Columbus Education Association (CEA) to schedule two negotiation sessions this week. Those meetings were agreed upon by the CEA and will take place on Tuesday and Thursday.
The board called for the meetings with the union and mediator in an attempt to reach a contract agreement before the start of the school year.
The board said in its statement that it will read any comprehensive proposals put out by CEA and listen to the teachers.
Negotiations between the groups began in March and since then, the two have met 20 times with no reached settlement.
Among the issues the groups 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
President of the teacher’s union John Coneglio said the teachers are willing to compromise but hold firm in demanding safe conditions for students and teachers.
“If we don't reach an agreement, it will not be because of Columbus Education Association,” Coneglio said. “It needs more than words, we need enforceable language to make sure that folks are being held accountable to our kids."
If no agreement is reached between the teachers’ union and the school board, teachers will strike at midnight on Aug. 22.
Columbus schools are slated to start on Aug. 24. The school district has said that they are prepared for remote learning if the sides do not come to an agreement.
Read the full statement from Jennifer Adair below:
Jennifer Adair, Board of Education President
“Today the Columbus Board of Education bargaining team requested that the federal mediator contact the Columbus Education Association (CEA) and ask them to participate in two negotiation sessions this week. Our team is fully committed to listening to our teachers and to serving the district with integrity.
“It is our sincere hope that CEA will meet with us and bargain in good faith. It is time to set aside the rhetoric so that together we can create opportunities for unity and resolution.
“We will swiftly and thoroughly review any comprehensive proposal from CEA and will be responsive and engaged in respectful bargaining. This is what our students and our entire school community deserve.”