COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Aug. 24 is the first day of school for Columbus City School students.
There is some uncertainty, though — the question is will school be online or in-person for the start of the school year? It all depends on whether or not a new teachers’ contract deal will be reached.
The district has an alternative plan, which does involve remote learning, if a deal can’t be reached between it and the Columbus Education Association.
NBC4’s Karina Cheung spoke to an incoming freshman at Whetstone High about why an agreement is so important to her.
“I just really would like a normal school year because we are yet to have that because last year, we still had a couple of online days,” said Elena Earley.
She says she does not want to kick off the school year with remote learning. That’s the alternative plan Columbus City Schools has if the teachers’ union decides to strike.
“I’d rather wait because then by the time is resolved, we’re all entering the school year being ready, but if we do remote everybody’s going to be on different levels, by the time we get into the school building, so I’d rather wait,” Earley explained.
The district and the Columbus Education Association have been at odds over a new contract for months. The union wants smaller class sizes and HVAC maintenance district wide, and the district has put out what it calls a “fair and comprehensive offer.”
Board President Jennifer Adair released a statement asking for the union and a federal mediator to come back for two negotiation sessions this week.
“We will swiftly and thoroughly review any comprehensive proposal from CEA and will be responsive and engaged in respectful bargaining,” said Adair.
When NBC4 asked the union about two more sessions we were told, “…it remains our position that we are prepared to negotiate at any time.”
Earley worries that a remote start will impact more than just the school day.
“I’m on the volleyball team so definitely I’d want the season to go well and for us to be able to play other schools and just like football games and other events like homecoming I’d really like for all of these events to take place,” said Earley.
CEA has filed its notice of intent to strike or picket with the state. Whether or not that happens is up to union members and will be up for a vote. Earley hopes it doesn’t come to that.
“I think it would be a relief for families and teachers and students just the community in general it would be really nice if everything got resolved.”
The union says two bargaining sessions have been scheduled with the district. One on Tuesday and another on Thursday.