Community Divided By Teachers Strike?

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STRONGSVILLE, Ohio -- There is cautious optimism in Strongsville that the teacher's strike will be coming to an end.

After being a district of disruption for nearly two months, it is hoped the Strongsville City Schools can return to its status as a district with distinction.

Children played at a Strongsville Park Saturday, as city teachers prepared for the serious matter of voting on a contract.

A labor dispute has put 385 teachers on the picket line since March 4, and that put substitutes in the classroom. That was a different situation for fifth grader Matthew Ong.

“It was hard at first because we were combined. So, it was really loud. But, it has gotten better," he said.

Strongsville parent Erika Eredish said it has been difficult for high school students, too.

"I just know for my son in the high school that the kids there want it to end," she said. "They want their teachers back, because they have done nothing in eight weeks."

The Strongsville Education Association and the Strongsville School Board came up with a tentative agreement Friday night.

That was after eight weeks and several sessions with a federal mediator.

"There has been eight weeks there haven't been their regular teachers in -- so it has been an entire disruption for the school system," said Charlotte Goe, who has a granddaughter at Strongsville High School.

Many Strongsville residents feel this has not only been a long, disruptive strike, but one that has also divided the community.

"It has torn neighbors against neighbors and students against students," said Eredish. "Some don't want their teachers back, others do."

Matthew’s father, Paul Ong, said he is disappointed with some of the teachers’ actions during the strike.

"I just kind of hoped that could have been handled more professionally," said Ong. "I don't think they set a good example for our kids with what they did. At the end, the board, I believe, did well for the residents of Strongsville."

Many believe there will be a healing process ahead.

"It would be nice if we could all put aside the bad feelings," said Goe. "You know the things that have been said and done on both sides and move forward. That's what the kids need."

Resident Maryann Roberts added that she hopes they come to an equitable agreement.

“The children need the teachers," said Roberts. "I'm thinking the teachers need their jobs."

For extended coverage on this story, click here.

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