Reynoldsburg Students Return To School Ahead Of Possible Strike

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Reynoldsburg High School(Photo: Reynoldsburg High School)
Reynoldsburg High School(Photo: Reynoldsburg High School)

School starts today for some suburban Columbus districts, including Reynoldsburg, where the local teacher’s union has given their leaders the right to call a strike.

And the contract dispute is the talk of East Main Street as students head back to class.

Reynoldsburg’s school board wants to replace automatic teacher raises with merit pay and bonuses.

And it would replace the district’s health insurance plan with individual cash payments.

But contract talks with negotiators for the Reynoldsburg teachers union sputtered in late June. And, after two days of mediation late last week, no word of a tentative settlement.

“Of course I do pay attention to it,” says Robert Martin. He’s president of Ohio Select, a a family owned business in the heart of Reynoldsburg that sells school jackets and other clothing and sports items.

Martin backs the district’s teachers and says he worries little about possible property tax increases for city’s schools.

“Property taxes right now my home values just went down another $6,000 probably directly related to the state of the schools,” Martin says.

Across the street, at the Barber Zone, owner John Tucker and Reynoldsburg parent Nicole Williams say the contract dispute is a distraction that potentially hurts classroom learning. Williams has a student in the Reynoldsburg schools.

“At the end of the day it’s really about the children,” Williams says. “But, it’s about them as well because they’re there trying to teach our children when we’re off working.”

“I wanted my kids to go somewhere and the teacher be not having to be worried about medical bills at home or how she’s going to take care of her family,” Tucker adds.

“I want her focus to be on taking my child to the next level. Money is the problem solver; without the money, problems come.”

Reynoldsburg enrolls about 6,000 students and is highly rated among Ohio school districts. During an earlier interview with WOSU, school district spokeswoman Tricia Moore said the district’s contract proposal, with merit pay and elimination of group health care, reflects a culture of innovation that benefits students and helps the district excel.

“Reynoldsburg City Schools has a pretty established culture of innovation and I don’t see that changing one bit,” Moore said.

“In fact, this supports those values by recognizing teachers who are doing most to make sure that every child is achieving at high levels.”

While the union membership has voted to allow leaders to call a strike, no such action has ben taken. The Reynoldsburg Board of Education meets next week.