Reynoldsburg Mayor Brad McCloud released a statement today, Oct. 3, asking both sides in the ongoing Reynoldsburg teachers strike to find a way to reach an agreement.

Reynoldsburg Mayor Brad McCloud released a statement today, Oct. 3, asking both sides in the ongoing Reynoldsburg teachers strike to find a way to reach an agreement.

"I have been deeply troubled by the toll this strike has taken on our community," he said. "We are now on day 11 of the current strike and it is time for this to come to an end for the good of our students and the community."

McCloud said the last time Reynoldsburg experienced a teachers strike was in 1978.

"I was a senior in high school and I remember the confusion and frustration that occurred during and after the strike," he said.

McCloud said he has contacted the school board and the Reynoldsburg Education Association (REA).

"I understand the complexity of the issues being debated, but I'm confident that that Reynoldsburg Education Association and the board of education can put their differences aside and come to a sensible compromise that will allow for the healing process to begin," he said.

Both sides are currently in court-ordered mediation concerning the safety of the schools, after parent and lawyer Tom Drabick filed a complaint asking the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to force the district to close during the strike. He cited instances where inadequate supervision had caused "near riot" conditions at the high schools and said an elementary student was forced to sit in class all day with a broken arm after being injured on the playground.

Judge Michael Holbrook declined during a status hearing on the request for an injunction Oct. 1 to give an immediate order to close the schools, but ordered Drabick, REA and school board representatives into mandatory mediation from Oct. 1 through Oct. 5 to "get all sides" to come to an agreement on the safety issues.

Christian Williams, an attorney for the school board, called the lawsuit "frivolous" and asked that it be dismissed, saying if fights at school and not enough substitutes were reasons to close schools, "you're not going to have any schools open in the state."

Today, Holbrook scheduled an expedited hearing for 9 a.m. Oct. 14 to hear evidence from parents and school board and administrators on whether the schools are safe for students.

Holbrook said during the status hearing that he was ordering the mediation to get all sides talking to each other and was hopeful it could lead to an agreement on more than the safety issue.

"If they reach an agreement, then we're double blessed," he said.

Holbrook said he was a student in Columbus schools when teachers were on strike in 1975 and it was traumatic for him and other students.

According to Sarah Cole, a professor at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law, the judge Holbrook does not have the power or jurisdiction to force mediation on the teachers' contract, only the safety issue. However, she said ordering the two sides to discuss safety is a way to get both sides talking again.

The school board and REA negotiated for four hours Sept. 28, resulting again in an impasse over the major sticking point in the contract talks - a cap on class sizes. Board members so far have refused to consider a cap; teachers want a cap of 25 students per class at the elementary level and 30 at the junior high and high school levels.

School officials said the teachers' proposal would cost $2.5 million more than the district's contract proposal, partly because it would require hiring 16 more teachers.