Columbus City Schools and the Columbus Education Association returned to the bargaining table Wednesday, but negotiations ended without a contract and both sides expressing disappointment in the other.
In a statement, Columbus Board of Education president Jennifer Adair said that the district’s team was “disappointed about today’s bargaining session,” saying the district was ready to consider a counter from the union to its offer at the end of July. She added that the district believes the CEA has “not responded in good faith.”
“It takes two willing parties to successfully negotiate – it is impossible to bargain when the other side is not contributing to the conversation,” Adair said.
Read more:Columbus City Schools, Columbus Education Association will return to bargaining table
But in a video released after bargaining ended for the day, CEA president John Coneglio said that the union provided a “comprehensive counter-proposal on all remaining economic issues.”
Coneglio said the district did not offer any counter-proposals and offered “absolutely no movement of any kind from its so-called ‘final offer.'”
“Our students deserve better,” Coneglio said.
Woodcrest Elementary School, the district’s year-round school, returned to classes July 27. All other district schools are scheduled to begin the new school year on Aug. 24.
What are the issues the two sides can’t agree on?
On Aug. 4, CEA spokesperson Regina Fuentes said remaining issues included smaller class sizes; full-time art, music and physical education teachers; functioning heating and cooling systems in schools; giving teachers more planning time; a cap on the number of class periods in the day; and “other working conditions that recruit and retain the best educators for our students.”
The CEA’s legislative assembly unanimously voted that day to issue a 10-day notice of its intent to strike.
Read more:Leaders of Columbus teachers union vote to issue 10-day notice of intent to strike
The district has released multiple statements in response to those issues, stating that it is updating heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in schools, using federal emergency COVID-19 funds for upgrades at 13 schools. The district also states that the current average class size at its 109 school buildings is 22 students.
In the district’s statement Wednesday, Adair said that they are willing to meet as many times as needed to come to an agreement with the union, while the union has also said they’ve let the federal mediator know that they are willing to meet any time as well. However, neither side reported that another negotiation session has been scheduled.