Special Columbus school board meeting draws picketers, parents and little progress
A special Columbus Board of Education lasted about four hours Monday evening, but ended with no new developments in the district’s first teachers’ strike in nearly a half-century.
The meeting was held nearly entirely in executive session, with board president Jennifer Adair reading a statement afterwards.
"Please be assured, we will support your children and families with the resources they need in this time of uncertainty,” Adair said, hinting that a remote start to the new school year seems more likely than ever.
As Adair spoke inside the district’s Southland Center, dozens of teachers picketed outside, continuing their call for updated school buildings, smaller class sizes, and more full-time art, music and physical education teachers.
They were joined by CCS parents who support the teachers' aims.
"We're fortunate to be in a really new building, with no issues that I'm aware of," said Dina Galley, who has a daughter starting third grade at Ecole Kenwood French Immersion Elementary School.
"However, the pictures that I've seen, and all the stories of schools needing to shut down and be remote for HVAC issues, heat cold ... these have been ongoing issues that haven't been remedied," Galley said.
Jeff Konczal has two kids in the school district. He isn't looking forward to a return to remote learning, which is how the district plans to start the school year if a deal isn't reached by the time classes resume on Wednesday.
"When we did remote school during the pandemic, we could kind of deal with that. But then to do remote school because of this, it just feels different. It's a little harder to swallow," Konczal said.
At a news conference earlier in the day, CEA spokeswoman Regina Fuentes echoed the desire for a swift resolution that best serves students.
“We understand that parents are in a difficult space right now, but we also want them to understand we are doing this for the students of Columbus and we truly are making this sacrifice because we want the schools that Columbus students deserve,” Fuentes said.