The Columbus Education Association (CEA) voted late Sunday night to begin a strike, effective immediately.
The strike follows months of failed negotiations between the union and the school district, covering long-standing union priorities like reducing class sizes, expanding extracurricular activities (especially in art), and installing HVAC units in every school building.
The board’s final offer included union bonuses, 3% annual raises, official planning periods beginning in 2023, and an expanded teacher salary schedule. Furthermore, the offer also included a formal commitment to installing air conditioning units, as well as reducing class sizes in elementary schools.
“CEA is disappointed that the Board has again walked away from our students. CEA remains committed to negotiating the learning conditions Columbus students deserve,” union spokesperson Regina Fuentes told local media.
August 24th will remain the first day of school, but Columbus students will attend classes remotely until the dispute with the teachers union is resolved.
While other prominent teachers unions strike frequently, Columbus has not experienced a strike since 1975. However, the city experienced the same strife that others did during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Let’s come together on one accord and let’s get the job done, and give the students what they need,” said Columbus resident Pam Shields.
“We’ve got to look at ways to bring a conclusion and a solution because our students are at risk right now,” Shields continued.
There is no word as to whether CEA leadership will go vacationing in Puerto Rico, as Chicago Teachers Union leaders did during their attempts to keep schools closed in 2021.