GENEVA, Ohio — The Geneva Area Teachers Association (GATA), which represents 145 teachers, counselors and nurses, voted Thursday night to allow their bargaining team to serve the Geneva Area School Board with a 10-day strike, according to a release from the association.
The decision to give the board a 10-day strike notice comes after the superintendent has “insisted that teachers simultaneously try to teach kids in the classroom and online," according to the release.
GATA spokesperson Cheryl Ramsey said last night’s vote doesn’t mean the teachers are going on strike.
“We don’t take this step lightly at all,” said Ramsey, “and we certainly hope that it doesn’t come to that. But we’ve got to stand up for quality education here in Geneva."
“We came to the table to bargain in good faith, with hopes of forging a good relationship with our new Superintendent,” Ramsey added, “What the Superintendent is demanding isn’t sustainable—not for our members, our students, or our community. And we want to be clear: it isn’t just about the unreasonable and divisive demands about health insurance. It’s about how our students get to learn.”
Ramsey said forcing teachers to do both online learning and in-person teaching hurts both the teachers and students and said that almost no district in Northeast Ohio is still doing online learning this way after a year of struggle during 2020.
“All of our students—both the ones in the classroom and those learning online—deserve better. Each type of student deserves a teacher who can focus on their needs and learning environment. Forcing our members to do both hurts students and teachers alike,” said Ramsey.
According to the GATA, teachers in Geneva, through previous contracts, agreed to a number of years with no wage increase and said wages are not an issue this time. This is about online instruction and health insurance, particularly for new hires.
Both sides have been in negotiations for over six months without an agreement. Members of GATA have been working without a contract since June 30. The next mediation with a federal mediator is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 18 at 3:30 p.m. at the high school.
“Geneva’s parents and community members have always supported quality education for our students, and we appreciate the continued support and encouragement that we’ve always received. It’s a big part of what’s always made our district a top-quality place for our students to learn and grow,” said Ramsey. “That’s why we urge community members to hold the Board members accountable by directing the Superintendent to negotiate a fair contract that values teachers and students. We don’t want a strike here in Geneva, but we will do whatever it takes to maintain the quality education our students deserve.”
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