Teachers Planning to Strike Laugh, Groan at School Board

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STRONGSVILLE, Ohio -- Teachers in a local school district say they plan to go on strike unless they reach a contract agreement with their school district.

Thursday evening, hundreds of teachers in the Strongsville City School District met in the Strongsville High School auditorium to approve a "no confidence" vote against their school board, on the same day they alerted the board that they plan to go on strike on March 4.

"They are asking us within the round of negotiations to make concessions that are not in the best interest of kids, you know, our working conditions are the kids' learning conditions and we strongly believe that," said teachers union president Tracy Linscott.

"Our proposal really reflects the economic realities and the fiscal and financial difficulties, not only in our geographic area, but throughout the nation," said Strongsville Schools superintendent John Krupinski.

Neither side would talk about specific sticking points in contract talks, but they say working conditions and salaries are a big concern.

After the union vote, the teachers packed the high school's media center for a school board meeting.

The room was so crowded that the fire department had concerns about the number of people in attendance.

They allowed everyone to stay, but cleared the aisles in case of an emergency.

"Frankly it is hard to comprehend why a strike notice was issued when we are still in negotiations," said school board member David Frazee, which drew moans from the crowd filled with teachers.

"Who would actually be in the classroom with the children, would you have enough people to cover all the classes?" asked parent Jennifer Williams.

"We have already begun the process of hiring qualified substitute teachers for our district and expect to be fully staffed," said Frazee.

His comments were met by skeptical laughter from the crowd.

"And as students, we are really afraid of losing our teachers," said a student at the meeting.  Her comments were met by applause.

Most students and parents Fox 8 spoke to hope a strike does not happen.

"In the teachers' point of view, they probably have good reason, each individual, but overall I don't want them to," said student Libby Erdelac.

"It's not good for the kids, which is my main concern as a parent," said parent Jennifer Erdelac.

Both sides are scheduled to meet with federal mediators on Friday morning.  If necessary, they will meet again on Monday.