Strongsville: Teachers, parent group both rally

7:15 PM, Mar 8, 2013   |    comments
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STRONGSVILLE -- The teachers strike continues in Strongsville, finishing a tumultuous week for the school district and the community.

Teachers will continue to picket outside the schools, demanding the board go back to the bargaining table after negotiations on a three year contract have stalled. A spokesperson says the members will maintain their course and continue the strike next week.

Members of the Strongsville City Schools Board of Education and the Strongsville Education Association last met Wednesday evening with a federal mediator.

No further mediation session are scheduled at this time.

The key issues bitterly dividing the schools and the union are work rules, evaluations and raises, and net compensation.

Friday afternoon, SEA organized a rally to mark the end of the strike's week one. Nearly 500 people gathered at the Strongsville Town Square Gazebo, after marching from Center Middle School.

The keynote speaker was former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. While state funding dwindles, Strickland says it's time for the board to step and provide a solution.

"I think they've got a responsibility now to recognize that maybe they've been negligent or derelict in their duties and it's up to them to come up with some solutions," said Strickland.

The teachers say their solidarity holds strong, whether this takes another week or a month.

"We're doing to do it because doing the right thing is never easy. It's a hard struggle and that's what we're doing," said Tracy Linscott, SEA president. "As long as it takes."

Meanwhile, a grassroots group of parents and community members have organized on facebook into a group called "End the Strongsville Teachers Strike NOW." Members say they're supporting the board, and it's time to stop the strike.

"I hope it ends today. Our kids are suffering. It's very hard for them to see their teachers everyday when they walk past them," said Denise Witherspoon, who has two children in the district.

"It really isn't about the teachers," said taxpayer Scott Phillips. "The board can't give anymore. There's no more to give. That's really what it comes down to. Regardless of what they want, we can't give it. Everybody else has taken cuts. They need to take cuts as well."

Even if the teachers ultimately get everything they are asking for, they could still end up losing money the longer the strike goes on.

Linscott says it's not about the money, it's about fair bargaining. She says the board is not willing to concede on requests that come for free.



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