Teachers in Columbus, Ohio, home to the state’s largest school district, went on strike Monday over smaller classes and safety demands after negotiations with the school board stalled.
The Columbus Education Association, the teachers’ union, said in a statement on its website that its educators and school communities are “on strike for our students” two days before the new school year begins. The union voted to go on strike on Sunday and said it would be on the picket line from Monday at 7am.
The union said the school board walked away from the negotiating table on July 28, refusing to agree to language in a contract that will “guarantee Columbus students’ basics such as air conditioning, appropriate classes, and full-time arts, music, and gym.” primary school teachers.”
“The Columbus Education Association negotiating team has been negotiating for months in an effort to reach an agreement, but Columbus City Schools continues to ignore the voices of our community and invest in our schools in ways that will improve learning conditions for our students,” says the statement said.
The union said on Twitter Sunday evening: that 94% of members voted to reject the school board’s latest offer and go on strike for the first time since 1975. The union represents more than 4,000 teachers and education professionals.
The chairman of the Columbus City Schools education board, which serves about 47,000 students according to the district, said Sunday the union’s strike vote was “incredibly disappointing.”
“We are saddened by the unfortunate situation our families, our community and, most importantly, our children are now facing,” Jennifer Adair said in a statement.
Adair said the board offered “a generous compensation package for teachers and facilities that would have a positive impact on classrooms.”
“Our offer also addressed concerns raised by CEA during the negotiation process,” she said. “The children of our community are the priority of the board, and our offering reflects that fact.”
Adair said school will begin on Wednesday, meaning children will learn online “to continue educating and supporting students despite the current circumstances.” The board did not elaborate on how it would staff online learning for its students.
“We value and respect our teachers, and we will continue to move towards collaborative solutions focused on what is best for our children,” she said.
The school board announces on its website that it will hold an emergency meeting on Monday evening. The union said on Twitter that it hoped its supporters would participate in a rally outside the board meeting.