COLUMBUS, Ohio — Just days away from a potential strike by Columbus City Schools teachers, this week is the last chance to come to a deal.
Tuesday, the district and the Columbus Education Association met for the 21st time. Afterward, the board held its regularly scheduled board meeting and the union rallied outside.
“We don't want to strike. We're trying to do what's best for our students. No kind of alternative plan will take the place of our expertise,” said Regina Fuentes, spokesperson for the Columbus Education Association.
The union and the district met Tuesday with a federal mediator to negotiate. The union said the group hashed out two topics, but one that is still a problem for the union is the language in the contract about HVAC systems.
“If the funds are there and you're doing the work, you know, Columbus City School District, then there shouldn't be a problem with having some accountability when it comes to putting that into the contract,” Fuentes said.
No one from the board or the Superintendent wanted to speak with 10TV after the meeting, but during the meeting, the board discussed the district's work on the HVAC systems.
The district said out of 112 academic buildings, three buildings will not have building-wide air by the start of the school year. But a district spokesperson said those buildings will have specialized cool-down locations.
In Tuesday's school board meeting, Board President Jennifer Adair addressed the ongoing negotiations. She said the education association also needs to compromise.
“CEA filed a notice of intent to strike without telling the board what it would take to reach an agreement. Today, less than a week before our teachers are set to return, CEA continues to refuse to negotiate about compensation, which precludes us from getting students back into their classrooms,” Adair said.
The next meeting with the federal mediator is on Thursday. If a contract is not decided on by Sunday, that's when the education association will vote to potentially strike on Monday.
In other items during Tuesday’s board meeting, the board voted to approve paying substitute teachers an additional one hundred dollars a week as an incentive to get more hired. Right now, the district has 600 substitutes available and 250 that would be working daily.
The board also voted on a resolution to remove its planned levy from the November ballot. The board voted to put it on the ballot back in May, which would build five schools across the district. The board said they hope to put it back on the ballot as soon as possible.