Heavy presence of ACE pickets outside school board emergency meeting

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The Columbus City Schools Board of Education met for about four hours Monday night in a closed executive session, then reconvened around midnight to say it had no action yet to report in in connection with the strike by his union of nearly 4,500 members representing teachers and other professional staff.

Council President Jennifer Adair read a statement to the media after their meeting, saying the council would have something to report “soon” about the strike, the district’s first teachers’ union since 1975.

mdiscuss the teachers’ union strike which has nearly 4,500 members,

After the board meeting, Adair said that while they didn’t have any action to report yet, they would “soon.”

“Our council fully recognizes this disruption and concern felt by our children and families across our city,” Adair said. “And to our school community…we are extremely saddened by the start of the school year.”

Adair added that families at Columbus City schools should be assured that the district “will support your children and families with the resources they need during this uncertain time.”

“We intend to continue to find a solution in a way that focuses on the best interests of our students. We know that’s your expectation and that’s our commitment to you,” Adair said.

The board meeting began at 8 p.m., with members immediately voting to enter executive session in a private meeting room inside the Southland Center.

Outside, a massive crowd of more than 1,000 Columbus Education Association teachers and other vocational education staff were joined by dozens of community members picketing along South High Street outside the center, holding signs and chanting as they did from 7 a.m. Monday when ACE members established there and at 19 of the district’s more than 100 schools.

Students at Woodcrest Elementary School, the district’s only year-round school, began classes July 27. The school switched to online-only learning on Monday, unsure what the outcome of CEA’s Sunday night strike vote would be. If the strike continues Wednesday, they will be joined online by all of the more than 100 other schools in the district, as Columbus City schools plan to move to remote learning with some 600 substitute teachers it says it has in place. .

Those gathering outside chanted as many Columbus residents who lived near or drove near the 19 elementary, middle and high schools where the picket took place hours earlier in the day, but with a sunset amber sun in the background:

Members of the Columbus Education Association picketed the district's Southland Center during an emergency Board of Education meeting Monday night.

“Who owns the schools? »

“Our schools!”

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“If we don’t get it.”

“Close it!”

Some Ohio state politicians made appearances, including Democratic state senator Tina Maharath – who was inside the Southland Center – as well as fellow Democrat and state senator Hearcel Craig , who rallied outside with the union and its supporters.

Craig, a former student at East High School in Columbus City, expressed hope that the school board and union would return to the bargaining table and reach an agreement for the children in the district, but no negotiations had been planned before the start. of the emergency council meeting.

“Teachers are our foundation, and we need to find a way to make sure they get the proper resources they need to teach all of our kids, regardless of zip code,” Craig said. “My hope and prayer is that we can come back to the table and continue to work on these issues, so that our families and our children have a quality of life.”

Members of the Columbus Education Association picketed the district's Southland Center during an emergency Board of Education meeting Monday night.

The special emergency session of the school board was planned just after the CEA voted to strike on Sunday evening. Both the union and the district held press conferences after the vote to express their disappointment at their inability to reach a contract.

“It is with a full understanding of the sacrifices students, parents, and teachers will make together to win the schools Columbus students deserve that CEA members have overwhelmingly rejected the board’s latest, greatest, and final offer. tonight and intend to strike,” AEC spokeswoman Regina said. Fuentes said.

Adair said at the district’s press conference that they believe the district’s second final offer is complete and that they are offering “provisions that will positively impact their classrooms.”

“School starts on Wednesday, which means our kids will be learning online,” Adair said, indicating the district is under no illusions that a deal with CEA will be in place by then.

“We know this is absolutely not ideal, but we have an obligation as a school district to continue education and support our students.”

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