Dayton Public Schools officials say they have backup plans in place to ensure a smooth start to the school year, despite a 10-day strike notice from the Dayton Education Association teachers' union, issued Tuesday to Dayton Public Schools through the Ohio State Employment Relations Board.
If a new contract deal is not reached in time, teachers could walk off the job as early as Aug. 11, just four days before the start of school.
Representatives from Dayton Public Schools and the union will return to the negotiating table this week, in hopes of hammering out a new contract before the first day of school on August 15.
At a meeting with reporters Tuesday, lead district negotiator Superintendent Rhonda Corr declined to comment on the specifics of the negotiations, but she says she remains optimistic about reaching a deal during the three remaining negotiating days, scheduled for Aug. 3, 7 and 9.
"There is nothing more I want than to avert a strike and get my Dayton Public Schools teachers back in front of kids," Corr says.
Corr outlined backup plans in the event of a strike, which call for bringing in current district substitute teachers, and adding additional subs from a replacement-worker company called Huffmaster.
"Teachers will be licensed, certified, background-checked and school will go on. I would prefer it to be with our regular teachers. And I'm going to stay positive, my whole team is positive that we can make this work," she says.
“There will be certified teachers present. They may or may not be the teachers that we currently have. We're putting kids first. We are going to work around the clock if we need to to try to strike a deal and settle this. And I believe, if calm heads prevail, I really do believe we will settle this.”
District and union representatives have been working to reach an agreement since January, eventually enlisting the help of a federal mediator. Talks officially reached an impasse in June, prompting the mediator to suspend negotiations until this week.
Dayton Education Association President David Romick says sticking points include salary and benefit packages, and library staffing.
District parents with the group Dayton United 4 Quality Education are expected to meet Tuesday to discuss the possible strike, at Grace United Methodist Church in Dayton at 6:30 p.m.