Last Updated on August 23, 2022
Teachers who work for the Columbus School District — the largest school district in Ohio — have gone on strike just two days before students are set to return for the new school year. The local teachers’ union overwhelmingly voted to go on strike after 94% of its members rejected the school board’s new contract.
The teachers’ union, the Columbus Education Association, filed an official notice on August 10 to the Columbus Board of Education stating that an agreement had to be reached within 10 days. “CEA has consistently maintained that we are fighting not just for CEA members, but for our students and community. That is why CEA will continue that fight until a fair agreement is reached for the schools Columbus students deserve,” said CEA spokesman Roger Fuentes after an intent to strike notice was filed.
Demands levied by the CEA include higher wages, smaller class sizes, upgrades to classroom heating and air conditioning systems, full-time teachers for extracurricular classes, and a limit on the number of class periods.
On August 18, the school board offered an annual raise of 3%, a $2,000 bonus, and a promise to install air conditioning in all classrooms. The possibility of smaller class sizes would also be explored, the board added.
The CEA ultimately stated that it was not comfortable with contract language pertaining to the air conditioning issue. “It is with a full understanding of the sacrifices that students, parents, and teachers will make together to win the schools Columbus students deserve that CEA members overwhelmingly rejected the Board’s last, best, and final offer tonight and voted to strike,” Fuentes said.
Jennifer Adair, the board’s president, expressed disappointment over the decision to strike. “We offered a generous compensation package for teachers and provisions that would have a positive impact on classrooms. Our offer was also responsive to the concerns that have been raised by CEA during the negotiations process,” the board president said.
The teachers began picketing outside the district’s 20 schools on Monday morning, reported WBNS-TV. The Columbus Board of Education stated that, because of the strike, students would start online remote learning with full-time substitutes in the meantime.
Board members held an emergency meeting on Monday evening, shortly after teaches started picketing. Currently, there are no scheduled negotiations between the union and the board.