COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Columbus City School year is getting closer, but the district and the teachers’ union still have not agreed on a contract.
The first day of school – Aug. 23 – is just a little more than a week away.
The district and the union, the Columbus Education Association, are scheduled to meet twice this week in an effort to reach an agreement before the school year starts.
The last time the two sides met last week, both walked away from the meeting saying they were disappointed.
A local labor and employment lawyer said the fact two meetings are now on the schedule is a positive sign.
“We are getting a bit down to crunch time in terms of the start of the school year,” said attorney David Riepenhoff, a partner in the firm Fishel, Downy, Albrecht, and Riepenhoff, LLP.
Riepenhoff is not involved in the Columbus schools negotiations, but his firm practices labor and employment law statewide and has dealt with public sector negotiations.
“It can be fairly intense, both parties at this phase,” he said. “They’re very passionate about what they’re trying to get out of the bargaining process and, really, the mediator has a strong role in trying to get the parties to work past what their differences are.”
The union and the district are going back to the negotiating table with a federal mediatory Tuesday, with a second bargaining session scheduled for Thursday.
“That’s a positive sign the parties might be able to reach an agreement, that they’re willing to get back together and schedule two dates with the mediator,” Riepenhoff said. “It also might signal they just have a lot of issues and they need two separate days with the mediator.”
He said that historically, most labor disputes do not go to a strike.
“Probably not a lot of time left here to reach a deal, but we’re getting close to the start of the school year and I’m sure both parties would like to reach a deal,” Riepenhoff said.
In addition to Tuesday’s bargaining session, the Columbus City School Board will meet Tuesday evening in an executive session, where the bargaining is likely to be discussed.