By Ethan Nichols, World News Editor
Members of Columbus Education Association voted to go on strike.
Amidst rising tensions between Columbus Public School teachers and board members, the Columbus Education Association (CEA) voted to strike on Sunday night.
With 94% of union members voting to reject the school board’s last and final offer, contracts for all 4,500 teachers expired at 12:01 AM on Monday.
The vote marks the first time since 1975 that Columbus teachers have gone on strike.
“It is with a full understanding of the sacrifices that students, parents, and teachers will make together to win the schools Columbus students deserve that CEA members overwhelmingly rejected the Board’s last, best and final offer tonight and intend to strike,” CEA spokesperson Regina Fuentes said.
Classes are scheduled to begin Wednesday, being taught by substitutes. Some sports programs will likely be canceled or rescheduled due to a majority of coaching staff being teachers.
“Tonight’s vote by the Columbus Education Association (CEA) is incredibly disappointing,” the school board described. “We are saddened by the unfortunate situation our families, our community and, most importantly, our children now face,” a statement read.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said that the union and district should continue bargaining until a contract can be agreed upon. “The CEA and the school district must return to the table and get our kids back in the classroom. A responsible solution is within reach, but only if negotiations restart now,” the mayor said in a statement.”
CEA members began picketing at 7:00 AM Monday morning at 20 locations, including 19 schools and the district’s Southland Center.
Union members carried signs stating:
“Columbus students deserve: smaller class sizes, art, music and P.E.”
“Columbus students deserve: a safe place to learn”
“Columbus students deserve: a safe working environment”