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Youngstown teachers strike is on; school will begin remotely for students Friday

Lubo Ivanko

A strike is on for Wednesday on what would have been the first day of classes. No further negotiations took place Tuesday between Youngstown City School District's teachers union and the school administration.

Teachers will be demonstrating outside school buildings Wednesday and beyond, Youngstown Education Association spokesperson Jim Courim said. Superintendent Jeremy Batchelor has contended that a strike would be illegal because the teachers union rejected use of a third-party fact-finder to help arbitrate the two sides' differences.

Meanwhile, the start of the school year has been pushed back until Friday, and students will begin the year remotely. Free school breakfasts and lunches will be provided at drop-off sites while buildings are closed to the public, according to a help page created by the district.

"We are working to allow opportunities for students to meet online with a YEA administrator with teaching experience or opportunities to complete online lessons independently at their own pace," the district said. "This approach aligns with our COVID and blended learning plans. While in-person learning is obviously preferred, our educational community has developed extensive experience in helping students learn virtually."

The union has said it's striking after months of not seeing eye-to-eye with the district on specific contract language, but has declined to delve deeply into what issues are at play, outside of noting the main sticking point is not about pay. The district, meanwhile, contends on its website that the two sides have not come to an agreement on:

  • Pay raises: the district is offering 2% raises and the union is seeking at least 4.8%.
  • The amount of "student contact time": the administration is seeking an increase, and the union wants it to stay the same
  • Contract language around managing where teachers are placed according to the district's needs; teachers have stated that they want more of a say on this front.

More information on meal pick-ups and how parents can get laptops for remote learning can be found on the district's website.

Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.