Strongsville mayor calls for end of teachers' strike at state of city, invites both parties to meet

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio - The mayor of Strongsville called on the district's teachers' union and school board members to meet Friday, and negotiate a deal to end the teachers' strike that's now in its third week.

"It's time for the posturing to stop, the rhetoric to stop, that's enough," said Mayor Thomas Perciak, who addressed hundreds of Strongsville residents at his annual state of the city address Tuesday.

Perciak invited representatives from both sides to meet in his office at 10 a.m. Friday and stay until a resolution is reached.

"This stoppage isn't good for anybody," he said. "It's not good for our community, it's not good for our children."

In a phone interview after the mayor's address, Tracy Linscott, president of the Strongsville Educational Association, said the union hasn't been invited to the Friday meeting yet. But if the invitation is extended, she said they would be "absolutely" meet.

Strongsville Schools Superintendent John Krupinski said he hadn't been informed of any meeting in the mayor's office prior to Tuesday's address.

"Certainly, we thank him for that opportunity," Krupinski said. "We're still under the auspices of the federal mediator, but I certainly will take his offer seriously and talk it over with the board of education."

Perciak said anyone can call a negotiation meeting, and if the two sides agree to be there, the federal mediator will be present. However, Krupinski said he understood the guidelines to be that the federal mediator is the only individual that can call a meeting.

Krupinski added that the two sides are no closer to a deal being reached, but there are no plans to close the schools while the strike continues. Linscott has suggested that move in previous interviews, citing the safety and well-being of the students.

"Our buildings are open, education is going on, and if we were to close schools, every single one of those days would have to be made up," Krupinski said.

Eighth grader Lilli Neal said school has returned to a sense of normalcy now that substitute teachers have been in place for a couple of weeks.

"We're having lesson plans now, we're having tests scheduled," Neal said.

But, Neal's mother, Janet, is concerned about her daughter's education and eager for the teachers to return to the classroom.

"I do believe it (the strike) is affecting her in that the workload that she normally is able to get through, now there doesn't seem to be as much," Janet Neal said. "They are still working in school, but just not at the level that they were before."

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