STRONGSVILLE, Ohio -- The Strongsville teachers union Tuesday offered to end the ongoing strike by entering into binding arbitration with the Strongsville School Board.
But a few hours later, the board announced they would not agree to arbitration.
"We believe we have a responsibility to our community and voters to stay the course," said David Frazee, board president. "In binding arbitration, we would be delegating to an out-of-town third-party the authority to spend Strongsville taxpayer dollars and concede management rights, which our board thinks is not appropriate and is not agreeable to us."
Frazee said the board has a "last best offer on the table."
"We will continue to keep the community informed as the mediation process continues, but binding arbitration is not an option," he said in the statement.
The union made the announcement at a rally Tuesday attended by Sen. Sherrod Brown.
"If the board agrees to the SEA proposal to enter binding interest arbitration, the strike will end immediately, and our kids will return to school this week to find their highly qualified teachers of record back in their classrooms," SEA president Tracy Linscott, said in a press release proposing the arbitration.
The teachers are in their fifth week of the strike.
If the offer would have been accepted, the SEA and the board would have relied on an arbitrator to decide between contracts proposed by each side, issue by issue.
In response to the union's offer earlier Tuesday, Brown issued the following statement:
“Strongsville students deserve a settlement – now. But a settlement can’t be reached if the two parties aren’t talking. That’s why I joined teachers today – who told me how they want to be back in the classroom – and why I will keep in contact with the School Board. This issue is about fairness for educators and taxpayers alike. But most importantly, this is about our children’s well-being and their right to a quality education, which is why both sides need to come together now.”
The Strongsville student body also issued the following statement before the school board announced its decision:
"The student body of the City of Strongsville is pleased to hear of the recent proposal of a binding arbitration by the Strongsville Education Association. By the board excepting the proposal the strike will end immediately bringing our teachers back into the classroom. The binding arbitration is the best route to end this strike now and it needs to be accepted for the best interest of the students, the district and the community as a whole. This glimmer of hope needs to be taken hold of and it must be enacted to keep Strongsville at a district of excellence level."
The Strongsville Education Association represents 385 teachers, guidance counselors and special education interventionists.
A federal mediator is scheduled to meet with both sides Wednesday morning at 9:30 in Independence.
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