(Strongsville) - On the first day of the Strongsville teachers' strike, 380 members of the union are on the picket line, and 6,200 students were expected to show up for school to be taught by substitutes.
Some students, however, say there's little or no actual learning going on. Strongsville High School student Anthony Kowalkski tells WTAM 1100 that he went to two classes Monday morning. In the first one, after signing an attendance sheet, they watch the news on TV. For the second one, they watched a video.
Strongsville High student Louie LaQuatra says one thing he's not happy to see is how the subs are being treated by the picketing teachers, that the subs were being yelled at by members of the Strongsville Education Association. He understands why the teachers walked out, but wishes they'd be more civil.
Superintendent John Krupinski tells WTAM that on the first day, they had a better than 50% attendance by students, which he has been told is very good for the first day of a strike situation. He admits that not enough substitutes were hired, forcing cancellation of some secondary school classes, but that more will be hired as time goes on.
Strongsville teachers voted to strike Sunday evening following a meeting at the Strongsville Holiday Inn.
The strike was effective as of 12:01am March 4th.
SEA President Tracy Linscott released a statement after an eight-hour bargaining session with the Board of Education:
“The Strongsville Education Association is extremely disappointed by the Board’s decision to abruptly end bargaining by issuing a Last Best Offer at today’s afternoon negotiations session. The Association is discouraged over the Board’s childish decision to abruptly leave the building, in the same taxpayer-paid Huffmaster security van they arrived in, instead of remaining to receive a comprehensive proposal they knew was being printed off by the Mediator. The Board’s continued inability to bargain in good faith as well as their stunning decision to issue a premature Last Best Offer reinforced what the Association has known for the last nine months. Specifically, that this Board never intended to reach a deal, and instead was simply buying time to unilaterally implement a contract at a time of their choosing. As a result, the Association has a planned general membership meeting Sunday to take a strike vote.”
All members of the Strongsville City Schools Board of Education were present to make a last best offer to the Strongsville Education Association at the meeting with an assigned federal mediator, according toBBoard President David Frazee.
“We hope that we can make progress toward an agreement,” said Frazee. “We plan to spend whatever time necessary to obtain an agreement that we can afford.”
Frazee adds, “We will continue to keep the community informed regarding our preparations for a strike, which appears to be likely. And, certainly we will announce good news of a settlement, if we have that to report. ”
Classes will be held as scheduled during the stike. Superintendent John Krupinski says they have a highly capable and professional administrative team as well as qualified substitute teachers in place, who want only the best for the students.
Krupinksi says, "We thank the Strongsville Police Department for their efforts so that our students and non-striking staff are able to open schools on Monday as we begin this teachers’ strike."
"We believe we have done everything we could to avoid a teachers’ strike," Krupinski adds. "It is the Strongsville Education Association’s decision to go on strike. We will continue to negotiate in good faith during the strike."
The district has posted both the BOE and SEA proposed agreements online at www.strongnet.org/negotiationnews. Krupinski says the community will find the BOE agreement to be fair "to our teachers and affordable to our district".
An official statement from Supt. John Krupinksi:
"Today, March 4, we had an outstanding turnout of our student body that certainly reflects the support and confidence our families have placed in our school district. We thank our community and families for the support we are receiving."
"Needless to say these first days and week of teaching will be difficult, but we are doing everything in our power to improve the situation."
"Interviews and background checks identified qualified substitute teachers, who passed the criminal background checks all Strongsville teachers must pass, all day long. More are being processed and the number of substitute teachers will increase every day as we move forward."
"We have heard questions about the high school where we had fewer teachers than we had expected. We want the community to know that the conditions at the high school improved every hour. By the middle of the day, hallways were clear, students were in the classroom, and substitute teachers were teaching."
"We will keep our schools open. We will continue to add the substitute teachers we need. And we will continue to negotiate in good faith."
"We continue to put our strike preparation plan into effect. Families can stay up-to-date with the latest information by checking our website (www.strongnet.org)."
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