GAHANNA, Ohio (WCMH) — Gahanna-Lincoln student council president Jason Raymond called out members of the Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education over the ongoing teachers’ strike.
The Gahanna Jefferson school board met virtually Thursday night with most of the meeting in executive session. But before that, Raymond spoke for about 15 minutes about the strike.
“From what I’ve gathered from my fellow students, my fellow peers, and my fellow teachers is that the only thing stopping us (from returning to school) is you,” Raymond said. “The only place we’re not seeing sacrificing is the board.”
Raymond became emotional during his speech and teared up when talking about the importance of teachers in the Gahanna community.
“The teachers are the backbone of this district. I understand the work you’ve put in to making Gahanna the place it is, but I’m the person I am because of my teachers. My teachers have molded and shaped me to be the person I am today,” Raymond said through tears.
Raymond added he and many students believe board members want to reach a deal and are doing their best to do so. But he added they could be doing more.
“No one is saying you aren’t good people,” Raymond said. “People are saying that you’re in a place of power and that must be used to protect teachers and students . . . this board doesn’t exist without teachers.”
Before he finished, Raymond said there are only two sides who are largely affected by the strike: students and teachers.
“Students are losing at the end of the day. Teachers are losing,” Raymond said. “This strike was preventable. It didn’t have to come to this.”
Gahanna-Jefferson Superintendent Steve Barrett responded to Raymond by saying he’s not helping students if a good deal isn’t reached, but agreed students do not deserve to be going through this situation.
“I think you’re right. We owe you better,” Barrett said. “I want you to know we’re getting closer [to a deal] . . . but if we don’t reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial then we’re letting you down.”
Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association spokesperson Betsy Baker echoed that sentiment earlier in the day.
“Knowing that steps are being made, that we’re coming closer to that agreement, it’s exciting,” Baker said. “You know it’s hopeful.”