Firm contracted by Columbus City Schools to help in the event of a strike had issues during 2014 Reynoldsburg strike

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — On Monday night, the Columbus City Schools Board voted to approve a letter of agreement with a company that will provide a pre-strike contingency planning service.

Huffmaster Crisis Response, based in Michigan, will help district leaders prepare for the possibility of the Columbus Education Association going on strike.

The nearly 4,000 CEA teachers authorized a 10-day notice in the event that they do strike.

Huffmaster has previously operated in Central Ohio.

In 2014, the Reynoldsburg Education Association went on strike for 15 days.

During that time, school leaders said Huffmaster was contracted to provide security for the district. Additionally, the company was hired to provide staffing for the schools.

Joe Begeny, the current president of the Reynoldsburg City Schools board, was a member of the board in 2014.

He said Huffmaster only provided approximately 120 substitutes, for the more than 350 positions that needed to be filled. Additionally, Begeny said there were several other issues.

“We had a lot of substitutes that were sleeping on the job, a lot of substitutes that weren’t really doing their jobs,” he said. “There were not enough people in the buildings to cover everything the way that a normal certified teaching staff does and safety was at risk.”

NBC4 was referred to comments made by the CCS board, on Monday regarding the hiring of Huffmaster.

Board President Gary Baker said he was unaware of how many substitute teachers the company had available.

“The key is we are able to open school on the first day of school and that our students have a safe and prepared reception when they arrive at school,” Baker said. “Clearly, our hope is that Huffmaster’s services ultimately are unneeded and that there is no strike.”

The CCS board and the CEA continue to negotiate the terms of the union’s new contract. The current contract ends in August.

NBC4 left a message with Huffmaster for a comment on this story, however no phone call was returned.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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