Reynoldsburg News

Reynoldsburg teachers warn of ‘intent to strike and picket’

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Reynoldsburg students head back to class this week while teachers consider whether to strike.

Superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning said schools would remain open even if Reynoldsburg Education Association members hit the picket lines.

Teachers voted Aug. 8 to authorize a 10-day strike notice, meaning REA members could issue “a notice of intent to strike and picket” with the State Employment Relations Board at any time, REA spokeswoman Kathy Evans said.

The most recent negotiated teachers contract expired July 31.

“We don’t want to strike, but our students, community and teachers deserve a contract that invests in classroom priorities and builds a strong foundation for student learning,” Evans said.

She said unresolved issues during negotiating sessions Aug. 4 and 5 included no firm caps on class sizes and the district’s insistence on a merit-pay compensation package based on the state teachers’ evaluation system and student performance on state tests. Those issues prompted teachers to vote for the strike notice.

Thomas-Manning, who is in her first year as superintendent, said school would begin Aug. 13 and remain open despite a possible strike.

“We certainly hope that it does not come to a strike, but if it does, our schools will remain open,” she said. “We will make the necessary preparations to ensure the least disruption as possible for our students.”

Both sides began working with a federal mediator in June after negotiating sessions that began in late May stalled into an impasse.

Tricia Moore, district director of shared services and partnerships, said school board members were “disappointed” to hear about the strike notice, especially since the latest bargaining session ended at 2 a.m. Aug. 5 after 20 hours of negotiating with “a handshake and conceptual agreement on issues of compensation, insurance, class sizes and planning time.”

Evans said the teachers want a firm cap on class sizes and still are not happy with the proposed compensation package.

Moore said by 2 a.m. Aug. 5, the district had made concessions that included providing a 2-percent cost-of-living increase in the first year and a 1.7-percent cost-of-living increase in the second year of the contract.

Read more about this story in the Aug. 14 edition of ThisWeek Reynoldsburg News and online at ThisWeekNEWS.com.

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