Federal mediator holds meeting for Strongsville teacher, school board in hopes to end strike

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio - The Strongsville Education Association and the district's school board members met behind closed doors Tuesday for another round of negotiations as the teachers' strike enters its fourth week.

A federal mediator presided over the meeting, which took place at an office building in Independence. Talks started at 10:30 a.m. and were still underway as of 9:30 p.m.

 "That can only be a good thing that they're back talking," said Strongsville resident Becky Benson.

"I hope they come to a conclusion, but I don't have much faith," said Andrea Shaffer, another Strongsville resident.

There was still no word as to the status of the negotiations by early evening Tuesday. The two parties broke for lunch and again for dinner around 4 p.m.

The meeting came on the same day that the teachers' union filed an unfair labor practice lawsuit against the board. The suit claims the board is engaging in bargaining tactics that's dividing the two sides even more.

"I just feel sad that something like this can't be resolved before education is disrupted," said Linda Bebenroth, a Strongsville resident.

Last Friday, the union's president Tracy Linscott hand delivered a counterproposal to Superintendent John Krupinski. The union said the counterproposal calls for $300,000 in cuts to the union's previous offer. The cuts are being made to health insurance benefits.

But the board said the union's proposal still exceeds the school district's budget by more than $2 million.

"I think they should get back to work," said Dave Domin, a Strongsville resident.

Strongsville High School junior Mustafa Sammor agreed with Domin. He worries that if the strike continues for much longer, it may affect how grades are calculated.

"It's definitely longer than I expected," Sammor said. "I just hope that they're back by the end of spring break."

"Even when it gets resolved, it's going to have an impact, it's going to be lasting," Benson said.

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