By Allison Brown
STRONGSVILLE, Ohio -- Strongsville teachers have been on strike for exactly two weeks, and there has been no progress on a contract agreement even after a meeting with a federal mediator on Sunday.
The federal mediator called for the session at its Independence office.
Fox 8 cameras were rolling as Strongsville School Board President, David Frazee, walked out of the several-hour session with other board members.
"Very frustrated. I thought we would have been closer together after today, " Frazee said.
Nearly 400 Strongsville teachers have been on strike since March 4. They had been at the bargaining table with the board for months prior, but failure to agree on sticking points like wages and benefits has escalated.
"The parties remain significantly apart,” said John Krupinski, superintendent of Strongsville Schools.
Strongsville Education Association President Tracy Linscott tells Fox 8 the federal mediator who called the meeting went back and forth between two rooms discussing the contract with each party.
"It's very frustrating as the board won't even speak to us, so part of what today's meeting should have been was sitting down and having a discussion, which they were unwilling to do," Linscott said. "They want this strike to continue, they're not willing to make any movement off their last best offer, they'd rather have us on strike," she said.
However, Strongsville’s superintendent begs to differ. Krupinski tells Fox 8 there is a big reason why the teachers’ counter proposal cannot be accepted. He claims it would exceed the district’s budget by $2,000,000.
"We have reviewed the teachers' proposal, and it is unsustainable and unaffordable," Krupinski said.
According to the superintendent, there are more than 250 substitute teachers working in the district currently, and there is hope to offer the spring sports program and extra-curricular programs soon.
At the same time, teachers are concerned about what is happening in the classrooms while they are away, and fear students are not getting the best education.
"There are courses that are not being offered, they are watching cartoons, they are watching videos, and they are doing puzzles,” Linscott said.
SEA leadership tells Fox 8 teachers will stay on the picket line.
Krupinski plans to visit schools in the district this coming week and assures the community of Strongsville they will stay open.