Columbus teachers prepare for new school year as contract vote nears

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — On Wednesday, teachers with Columbus City Schools put the finishing touches on their classrooms, as students are set to return to class on Thursday.

The final preparations for the new school year come on the heels of a summer where the teachers fought for a new contract.

The Columbus Education Association and the school board spent dozens of days and hours negotiating the new contract. The CEA is trying to obtain better pay and improved benefits. Additionally, the teachers want a decrease in class sizes.

In July, the CEA authorized a 10-day notice, in the event that the teachers go on strike. Earlier this month, the union and the board reached a conceptual agreement, on the new contract.

The CEA is expected to meet on Sunday to review the terms of the potential contract, and vote on it.

In the meantime, teachers say the first day of school will be like any other for students.

“They’re not going to be hearing about contract negotiations,” said Regina Fuentes, a teacher and CEA spokeswoman. “The teachers always have the kids in mind when we go into the classroom and that’s going to be our main focus. There isn’t going to be anything else on our minds except doing the best for our kids.”

If the CEA approves the contract, the Board of Education will vote on it in the days to follow.

On Wednesday, Columbus City Schools Chief of Communication Scott Wortman issued the following statement:

“The Board of Education is unable to comment on the contract negotiations with CEA at this time. The Board has been committed to bargaining in good faith throughout this process, which will not come to completion until both sides have approved the agreement. The Board of Education is pleased with the outcome of the bargaining process to this point and is committed to seeing the process through to the end.”

The details of the conceptual agreement have not been made public.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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