DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The first day of school for Dayton Public School students is just two weeks away but it’s unclear whether any DPS teachers will be inside the classrooms.
After months of stalled negotiations, teachers voted to strike on August 11th, if an agreement is not reached with the school board.
Dayton Education Association president David Romick claimed the school board has repeatedly “failed to compromise”.
DPS superintendent Rhonda Corr said the school does have a back-up plan: licensed and certified substitute teachers will fill in for every vacant position.
“I’m going to remain optimistic because there is nothing more I want than to avert a strike and get my Dayton public school teachers back in front of kids,” Corr said.
“Schools have to stay open. We are in the business of educating children. So schools will be open on day one. I hope it is with our DPS teachers, however we have a back-up plan in place.”
Brandishing signs reading: “Teacher working conditions are student learning conditions”, DPS teachers said they’ve had enough.
Key issues on the table include: better salaries and packages to combat turnover, health insurance, the structure of the school day, time spent in the classroom, the amount time dedicated for lesson planning and teacher collaboration, and more respect for teachers.
“No matter what we proposed nothing was ever accepted, nothing was ever agreed to, nothing was ever up for discussion,” Romick said.
“Our message needs to be taken seriously. And we are a force to be reckoned with and negotiations need to continue in good faith and with urgency, at this point.”
Corr said the strike came as a shock.
“We are going to work around the clock if we need to – to try and strike a deal and settle this,” Corr said. “If calmer heads prevail and if we put kids first, I do believe we will settle this.”
There are more than 1,000 members in the DEA. Romick said they also want to reach an agreement.
“We are absolutely hopeful that this contract gets settled – that’s our goal: to settle this contact before the start of school,” Romick said.
“But if that does not happen, members of the DEA have stood up and made a statement that they will strike if necessary.”
Dayton parent Dr Monique Wilson said she hopes both sides can figure something out.
“I just came from enrolling. Now that you’re telling me this. It’s definitely a concern of mine,” said said outside of DPS headquarters.
The DEA and the school board have three more opportunities to reach an agreement ahead of the union’s strike deadline.
They have meetings scheduled for Thursday, next Monday, and next Wednesday.