Strongsville Begins Restoring Sports, Extracurriculars

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STRONGSVILLE, Ohio – Teachers are back to the picket lines after failed contract negotiations with a federal mediator and the school board this weekend.

But the Strongsville School District said they are moving forward with educating students.

“Very frustrated. I thought we would be close today, but we’re not,” said school board president David Frazee, after Sunday night’s meeting.

Monday marks the third week that nearly 400 teachers have been out of the classroom.

About 260 substitutes teachers were in classrooms Monday. Assistant Superintendent Cameron Ryba expects the district will get 20 more a day.

“Our superintendent has repeatedly said that there is learning going on at all levels, and I must say that that’s an outright lie,” said Tracy Linscott, the president of the Strongsville Education Association.

Linscott questions the quality of the substitutes, especially for special needs and advanced students.

“I would like to know how many speech language pathologists, how many psychologists, how many intervention specialists they have that are addressing our student’s IEP needs,” she said.

On Monday, the district announced that as a result of the strike, it will cancel a community service trip to Honduras and a choir trip to Chicago.

The district also announced it will start bringing back sports and extracurricular activities. Some sports will start as early as Wednesday.

Athletes have missed two weeks of the season, including practice time on campus. Cameron said many students have privately made up for lost time.

Cameron said former assistant coaches, mostly non-teachers who’ve worked with the schools before, will take over head coaching positions.

 The teachers union, however, questions the qualifications of those substitute teachers and if it will affect the students college scholarship eligibility.

There is definitely a chance if they’re not able to get a certified coach for that, then that sport might not be offered,” Linscott said.

Cameron said the district does a background check, among other certifications before approving any coach on staff. Some of those qualifications include: taking a sports first aid course, a fundamentals of coaches course, a course on concussions, CPR certification and additional permits.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association says spring sports teams won’t be affected by the strike. If spring sports teams miss any games, it will not change their stance in any play-offs.

Yet, if the strike goes into the fall, and if the team misses games, it may hurt the football team’s eligibility.

As for a student’s scholarship ability, the district said students won’t have any problems, but Linscott said the teachers and the sports matter more than people think.

“Our kids have gotten millions of dollars in scholarships every year, not only for sports but also for academics,” she said. “The teachers usually write the letters of recommendation, the senior teachers, and they’re not in the buildings to do that.”

The teachers union and school board have not scheduled another meeting for negotiations.

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