STRONGSVILLE, Ohio - No deal was able to be reached before midnight between Strongsville teachers and the board of education leaving only one outcome: a strike.
The teachers have claimed unfair terms in their contract negotiations with the Strongsville City Schools Board of Education.
Monday morning, teachers began hitting the picket line outside Center Middle School and the Board of Education with signs like "No Contract, No Work!" and "On Strike." They are chanting "Settle now," "Lies & tricks will not divide, workers standing side by side" and "We stand together."
Security guards hired by the district were stationed in the area for heightened security and to record the protestors demonstrating.
Some high school kids even joined in showing support, two next to each other with signs reading "Need a Bandaid" and "For that scab?"
On Sunday, teachers were outside city hall chanting and cursing at community members and substitute teachers who were applying for the temporary jobs. Some teachers were in the subs' faces, scaring a few away from even trying to land the job. After the day of protesting, union members were silent Sunday night as a spokesperson for the teachers made the announcement. The strike officially began at 12:01 a.m. Monday.
The Strongsville City Schools superintendent John Krupinski issued the following statement on the strike:
"We are disappointed that our teachers have voted to implement a strike beginning on March 4, 2013. However, the Board of Education (BOE) and I are pleased that we have a highly capable and professional administrative team as well as qualified substitute teachers in place, who want only the best for our students.
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. It is the Strongsville Education Association’s (SEA) decision to go on strike. We will continue to negotiate in good faith during the strike. We have posted both the BOE and SEA proposed agreements online at www.strongnet.org/negotiationnews . The community will find the BOE agreement to be fair to our teachers and affordable to our district.
We are putting our strike preparation plan into effect. Families will continue to find helpful information on our website ( www.strongnet.org )"
Below is what the board of education has posted to its website about what the strike means to students and the community:
Q: How did we get to this point—the possibility of a teachers’ strike?
The Strongsville City Schools (SCS) Board of Education (BOE) is driven by a unanimous desire to address the economic issues facing our school district head on. We need to attach real-world economics and be certain
that the new contract is one that SCS can afford. Under the State of Ohio’s collective bargaining laws, the Strongsville Education Association (SEA) (the teachers union) has the right to strike if a new agreement is not
reached. The SCS board is committed to bargaining in good faith and will do its best to reach a fair agreement with SEA. Based upon SEA’s official 10-day warning letter, a new contract must be approved by midnight on
March 3, 2013 or there will be a strike.
Q: At a recent board meeting, a discussion about transparency ended with a request that both the board and union proposals be shared with the community. Will this happen?
The union does not want to share their proposal. The board is currently honoring this request and continues to negotiate in good faith.
Q: What day will be the first date of the strike and will there be school that day?
Unless a settlement is reached, the first day of the strike will be March 4, 2013. Yes, there will be school that day and every school day after that is posted on the SCS school academic calendar.
Q: Will the board continue to meet and negotiate if there is a strike?
Yes. The board will meet whenever meetings are scheduled by the federal mediator.
Q: Are the board and administration intent on breaking the union and firing teachers?
The SCS board and administration believe that Strongsville City Schools teachers are outstanding. The success of our students underscores this fact. However, it is disappointing that our teachers want this strike, while the board wants to continue to negotiate in good faith.
Q: Will teachers be paid if they strike?
No. They will not be paid because the days on strike are days when they are scheduled to work.
Q: Will the striking teachers still have board-provided hospitalization and prescription drug benefits during the strike?
No. Ohio law does not permit the board to pay for the striking employees’ insurance benefits while on strike. Therefore, the board will notify the insurance administrator to halt board-paid benefits once a strike begins. Teachers have been notified that their benefits will cease.
Q: Why not close the schools until both parties
are ready to settle?
If schools are closed, the days will have to be made up by students at some point to meet state requirements for completing a school year. If the days are not made up, the state will withhold funds needed to operate Strongsville City Schools. More importantly, students will not get credit for the school year, and the entire year may need to be repeated. If the school is closed for an extended period of time while the parties try to reach a settlement, it is possible that the school year will extend into the summer. An extended school year negatively impacts students being accepted into colleges and may also affect appointments to military academies and
enlistment in the armed forces as well as family work schedules and activities.
Q: How do we know that substitute teachers hired during a strike will be qualified to teach in Strongsville?
The SCS administration will verify that all substitutes meet the requirements set forth in the Ohio Revised Code and by the Department of Education. The process includes a criminal background check and certification verification. Students and parents should know that, despite the SEA press release of March 2, 2013 announcing its teachers will not honor the grades issued for student work during the strike, grades given by licensed substitute teachers will count toward graduation.
Q: How can the board afford to pay substitutes up to $175 per day during a strike?
Currently, the average teacher’s salary is more than $175 per day, plus medical benefits. Striking teachers do not receive salary or medical benefits. Substitute teachers do not receive medical benefits.
Q: How can Strongsville City Schools be ready in just 10 days with all the teachers we need to do the job?
When the union chose to announce its intent to strike, the board began preparing to open schools without their regular teachers. We will be able to start teaching on March 4 with a qualified teaching team that will ensure
that English, mathematics, social studies and science are handled effectively from the start. Without a doubt, it would be best if there were no strike. But the SCS board and administration are both focused on keeping
the school day as close to usual as can be achieved. Our schools will open and stay open even if the teachers choose to strike. A significant number of substitute teachers have already been identified.
Q: How can I be sure that my child will be safe with substitute teachers?
Substitute teachers will be required to pass a criminal background check, which will include an “Instant Check,” a service that is already used by Strongsville City Schools. It is the same check performed on current
Strongsville teachers. Under this process, a machine connected to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation computer is used to check each applicant’s fingerprints almost instantly. Moreover, if a
prospective teacher has not lived in Ohio the last five years, a higher level of background check will be conducted through a Federal Bureau of Investigation database. Criminal background checks are being performed at the district by district personnel and our professional strike management team. After the close of
business on Friday, March 1, 2013, further checks were performed under the supervision of the Strongsville City Police Department. The results for background checks take anywhere from 20 minutes to several weeks to obtain. It is important to note that any substitute teacher who has not received a successful background check prior to the start of school on Monday, March 4 will not be placed in the classroom. Only substitute teachers with background checks that meet Ohio Department of Education requirements will be hired by the district.
Q: Why is the board of education hiring a security firm during the strike?
The security firm will help to provide a safe environment for students and staff during the strike. The security firm will also assist SCS to find qualified substitute teachers to educate students during the strike.
Q: Will the guards be armed?
No. The guards will not be armed in any way. They will not carry weapons of any kind. Several of the guards will be videotaping the picket lines to document any problems that might occur. Guards will be equipped with
radios for communication purposes.
Q: How will the backgrounds of security guards be checked?
Arrangements have been made for security guards to have background checks on the same basis as substitute teachers. Moreover, if a prospective guard has not lived in Ohio for the last five years, a higher level
of background check will be conducted through a Federal Bureau of Investigation database.
Q: How will school buildings be protected from intruders?
Procedures are in place to prevent unauthorized access to the buildings. The Strongsville Police Department has made a significant commitment to ensure the safety of students, staff and the community at large during a
potential strike. There will be
a greater security emphasis during this period, especially with pickets active in the area. The security guards that have been engaged by the district have one objective in mind: provide a
secure, safe educational environment for students and staff.
Q: What is the effect of my child missing school during a strike?
According to board policy and as set forth in the student code of conduct, if a student is absent and that absence is unexcused, the student does not get credit for that day. Students should be in attendance during a strike unless excused for one of the acceptable reasons set forth in board policy.
Q: If the schools are kept open, will the days teachers are on strike need to be made up?
No. Those days will be considered part of the total number of days that students are required to be in attendance for the current school year.
Q: How will the Ohio Graduation Tests (OGT) be affected?
The district has been in communication with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) regarding administration of the OGT. The district is currently awaiting a final decision. It is unfortunate that the SEA has
deliberately chosen this important testing time to go on strike. However, if ODE determines that the test must proceed in the midst of a strike, the administration will ensure that the test occurs in a safe and educationally
appropriate environment. Our students are prepared to do well on this test.
Q: Tell me how AP tests will be handled.
The high school administrative staff intends to have an AP block with qualified teachers. It is unfortunate that the SEA chose to strike with AP tests on the horizon; however, the administration is committed to ensure
that preparations continue.
Q: How will students with special needs receive necessary support?
The board is actively recruiting special education substitute teachers. Special education aides will be on duty as usual. In addition, most related service providers will continue to honor their contracts and will be at work
as scheduled. The special education substitute teachers will follow the guidelines set forth in the IEP and 504 plans. As always, if parents have concerns about how their child’s needs are being met, they can contact the
Q: How will Strongsville City Schools handle medical concerns?
An RN has been retained to serve students during the strike. Additionally, LPNs contracted through a nursing agency will be at work, as usual. Parents are encouraged to speak to substitute teachers to be sure that
teachers understand their child’s individual needs.
Q: What will happen with sports and extracurricular activities?
Fortunately, the school year is more than 60 percent complete, so there are fewer activities with which to deal. Once the strike begins, many extracurricular activities and sports may be suspended until our teachers choose to return from the strike.
Q: During the strike, will the school buses run the same as before?
Yes, as school bus drivers will not be on strike. They will be reporting to work during the strike.
Q: Will the cafeteria stay open and operate the same as it is now?
Yes, as cafeteria workers will not be on strike. They will be reporting to work during the strike.
Q: How will parents and students be able to be prepared for and informed about schedules and plans for students during the strike period?
The Strongsville City Schools website and a special webpage will contain useful information as strike planning evolves and as the potential March 4 strike date arrives. Additional information will be communicated to our
families and the community as time goes on.
More information can be found here: www.strongnet.org/negotiationnews
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.