Tomatoes won’t be the only thing red at the Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival this weekend.
Visitors likely will see a lot of red Reynoldsburg Education Association T-shirts and purple and gold “I Stand with My REA” buttons.
Reynoldsburg teachers voted Friday evening, Aug. 8, to authorize a 10-day strike notice, meaning the bargaining unit could file a “notice of intent to strike and picket” at any time with the State Employment Relations Board, said Kathy Evans, school counselor and REA spokesperson.
Despite threatening to strike, teachers were back in classrooms this week and greeted students Aug. 13 for the first day of school.
“We were 100 percent focused on the students and excited to have them come back to school,” Evans said.
She said teachers who attend the Tomato Festival this weekend likely will wear REA T-shirts, but the group of people distributing literature at the festival would not be teachers.
“A parent group that supports us has taken a booth at the Tomato Festival and plan to pass out literature,” Evans said.
The contract between the district and the REA expired July 31.
Both sides worked with a federal mediator for two days last week, but even after a 20-hour negotiating session ending at 2 a.m. Aug. 6, teachers resisted a compensation proposal based partially on student performance on state tests and significant changes in group health insurance.
Evans said teachers also want a firm cap on class sizes.
Superintendent Tina-Thomas Manning said the district would not close school if teachers strike but would “make the necessary preparations to ensure the least disruption as possible for our students.”
Evans said teachers would show their support of the union bargaining team by gathering in a large group 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, one hour before the scheduled school board meeting, likely to be held at the Reynoldsburg High School Summit Road campus, 8579 Summit Road.
School board meetings usually are held at the Reynoldsburg Municipal Building, 7232 E. Main St., but Evans said the meeting likely would be moved to the high school to accommodate more people.
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