STRONGSVILLE, Ohio -- 383 members of the Strongsville Education Association (SEA) spent Monday on the picket lines after the union voted to strike after nine months of negotiating failed to end with a deal.
"Today has been a hard day, especially since we saw all of our students going into the buildings a little bit scared," said Tracy Linscott, the President of the SEA.
This is the first strike that either side can recall in the district with approximately 6,200 kids.
Linscott said the strike isn't what they want but the school district wasn't willing to bargain in good faith anymore. After getting what the district called the "last best offer", the SEA voted to walk.
"We want to be in the classroom, that's where we want to be," said Linscott. "I don't wanna strike but I will - I will stand up for what I think is right."
Christine Canning, a kindergarten teacher, said this is an outcome she didn't expect. "We wanna do this for the kids and a lot of people don't understand, they think that it's all about these other issues but all of the concerns that we have all revolve around them."
On Monday, school was in session with substitute teachers in the classrooms. Superintendent John Krupinski said they did everything they could to keep this from happening. "It is my hope that we could reach an agreement as soon as possible. I'm quite willing to speak to the bargaining unit of the SEA at any opportunity that I would have," said Krupinski.
Issues over health care, pay raises, pension and benefits made a deal impossible after nine months of bargaining. "Understand that a district has to operate in the black. It's mandated. We can't operate in the red. We must have a balanced budget and our proposal really reflects the economic realities of districts that have lost revenue," said Krupinski.
The tension on the picket lines only got more intense as the substitutes were bussed from a secure parking lot to their assigned schools buildings. According to Krupinski, the schools will stay open but the union said the help isn't qualified to be in a classroom.
"Stay at home. It's not safe in there. We're worried about what will happen in there," said Linscott. "You know, we're worried about the instruction. We're worried about the supervision issues."
"Is it a radical change in our district? Yes," said Krupinski. "We wanna keep our schools open and operating and that's our goal. That's our charge. We wanna provide the best education possible for our students."
The school is offering a core curriculum, according to the superintendent, which includes math, science and social studies but they plan to offer more as the strike continues.
No talks are currently scheduled.