School Board Won't Meet With Teachers' Union This Weekend
Frazee says negotiating team will resume contract talks when mediator calls a session
Strongsville School Board members won't take the teachers' union up on its request to personally attend a meeting Saturday to resume contract talks.
School Board President David Frazee said in a news release that the board intends to honor an agreement to let a federal mediator set bargaining sessions.
"In response to the SEA’s invitation for the Strongsville City Schools board to attend a negotiation session on March 16, the BOE reiterates its commitment to have its negotiation team meet when the federal mediator calls a meeting,” Frazee said in the statement.
On Wednesday, the Strongsville Education Association called for all five board members to attend a negotiating session Saturday at the North Eastern Ohio Education Association offices.
SEA President Tracy Linscott said the school district's attorney has thwarted the union's efforts to meet with the board and has failed to review the union's counter proposal.
Frazee said, though, that the board did review the offer.
“The community should know that the BOE negotiation team and the board did, in fact, review SEA’s counter proposal that was submitted on March 2,” Frazee added. “Not only was it shared with the board by the board’s negotiating team, it is also an easy matter for anyone in the community to review the proposal as it appears on the Strongsville City Schools’ website."
The proposal exceeds the district's budget by at least $2 million, he said, and is "just not sustainable."
The role of the mediator was called into question earlier this week after a three-hour session between key players on both sides ended with no progress.
Afterward, the mediator issued a statement saying the two sides "are free to meet without the presence of the mediator."
The mediator would await a response as to how the two parties wished to proceed, the statement said.
Frazee said the district is willing to negotiate with striking teachers, but will play by the ground rules the two sides initially set up.
“By mutual agreement in the current labor contract, the negotiating parties determined that a federal mediator must call meetings and will have jurisdiction over the process. We are committed to stay with this agreement.”
And he said the district "stands behind its last best offer" made during the last contract talks March 2.
"It was made with the intent of avoiding a strike,” Frazee said. “Sadly, it did not.”
The strike is in its second week. Last Friday, the SEA held a rally to urge teachers to "stay strong" during the work stoppage.