Strongsville: Students rally, community divide grows

10:43 PM, Mar 14, 2013   |    comments
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STRONGSVILLE -- Nearly two weeks into a strike involving Strongsville City Schools teachers and a resolution is not in sight.

Strongsville High School students organized a rally Thursday night, bringing candles, homemade posters and their voices.

"Strong teachers! Strong students!" the students chanted.

Joining the picket line were many of the striking teachers from the Strongsville Education Association, as well as some parents.

Bruce Pleskovic is the parent of a child in the IEP program, and is married to a Strongsville teacher. With his wife not working, it's been stressful.

"Just not having our normal routines. You lose weight, stress out over money issues, paying bills," Pleskovic said.

The latest meeting between the school board's attorney and the union took place under the watch of a federal mediator on Monday. 

Both sides left without any compromises. The school board says it has issued a final offer and that the SEA's proposal is $2 million over budget.

The board president says they will meet to negotiate only when a federal mediator calls them to the table. 

The SEA would like to see more contract negotiations and a willingness on the part of the school board to meet without a federal negotiator.

Also present at the Thursday rally -- teachers from the Cleveland Municipal School District.

Cleveland first grade teacher Cheryl West says her own district and union are in contract talks right now, but it hasn't come to a strike.

"You have to have somebody that's willing to listen. I think right now, that's not happening here [in Strongsville]," West said.

As many supporters as the Strongsville Education Association has, there are an apparently equal number of community members who support the school board.

Don and Maryann are Strongsville taxpayers, parents of a student, and small business owners.

The husband and wife say they are frustrated with the striking teachers, and say that many of their friends feel the same way.

"Bottom line is, the taxpayers in this community are tapped," said Don.

"We're hoping that the teachers who are on strike will have common sense and realize they do have a good package. Where are they going to go to get a better package?" Don said.

Maryann says her daughter has noticed some changes in the classroom, but she says the substitute teachers are doing well.  

"I can't say for everybody, but I know my daughter is learning in there. She has had homework. She has had tests," said Maryann.

On Friday at 3 p.m., parents who back the school board are holding what they say is a "counter-strike" at the Strongsville Town Square.


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