School Board Declines Mayor's Offer to Meet; SEA Says It Will Be There
Perciak asked for session in his office on Friday
UPDATED 4:45 P.M.
The Strongsville Board of Education says it will not accept an offer by Mayor Tom Perciak to meet at the mayor's office Friday with members of the striking teachers' union.
"We appreciate the Mayor’s offer to meet, but such a meeting is not in keeping with the parties’ existing negotiation agreement whereby we meet only when a federal mediator calls a meeting," Board President David Frazee said in a statement. "This usually occurs when one or the other party expresses a change in position."
Mayor Tom Perciak on Tuesday issued an appeal to both the School Board and the Strongsville Education Association to meet in his office so he could help facilitate an agreement and end the ongoing strike, now in its third week.
The SEA had not indicated whether it would attend, but said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon its representatives would.
“We are appreciative of the Mayor’s efforts to help us meet with the members of the school board,” SEA President Tracy Linscott said in the release. “Unless the SEA and the school board speak, it is impossible to negotiate."
Linscott said she hopes the board changes its mind and shows up.
"We still plan on going, just to hear what the mayor has to say," she said.
Perciak issued a statement saying he was disappointed with board's decision.
"It is truly disappointing to me and the community that leaders of both sides with settlement authority will not make themselves available for meaningful discussions in a neutral setting at City Hall," Perciak said.
The mayor, who has repeatedly called on both sides to return to the bargaining table, also said that "continued failure to negotiate in good faith is irreparably harmful to the students who have a right to a quality education, their parents and ultimately the community as a whole."
In the board's statement, Frazee said the board's negotiation team delivered a last best offer on March 2.
"We have listened to the voters and, just as the mayor must do, we must operate within the budget that we have been given. We have met under the jurisdiction of the federal mediator without progress," he said.
There has been one negotiating session since the strike started March 4. That meeting, which took place March 17, ended with no progress.
The SEA, in its statement, said that during that session, "the board refused to meet with the SEA and remained in a separate room for the entire four hour meeting."
The board also would not allow its negotiating team to meet with the SEA, and did not produce a counter offer to the SEA's last proposal, which was issued March 2, and "made no good faith effort to enter into discussions that would end the strike."
It is unlikely the five School Board members would have attended the session Friday with the mayor, although the SEA is seeking face-to-face meetings with them.
Frazee has said a number of times that the board's negotiating team will handle the talks with the SEA.
The team includes Superintendent John Krupinski, Ryba, Strongsville High School Principal Bill Steffen, Chapman Elementary School Principal Andy Trujillo and the district's attorney, William Pepple of Pepple and Waggoner.
For other stories on the teachers' strike, click here.
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