East Palestine schools prepare to stay open if teachers strike

EAST PALESTINE -- School officials are making plans to keep the schools open in the event of a teachers strike.
Representatives of the teachers union and the board of education were to meet today with a federal mediator.
Teachers have been working under terms of their old contract, which expired June 30.
Kevin Locke, attorney for the board of education, said in a prepared statement that administrators are meeting regularly -- as directed by the board -- to prepare to keep classes in session during a teachers strike.
Strike notice authority
The 95-member teachers union, the East Palestine Education Association, has authority from its membership to issue a strike notice.
Locke said the board's negotiating team is interested in settling all matters being negotiated.
Superintendent Jeff Richardson said the board's goal since the beginning of the negotiating process has been to reach an agreement that is fair to the members of the EPEA but that also reflects fiscal responsibility and the best interests of the district's pupils and its taxpayers.
Negotiations began May 8 and continued until impasse was declared June 20. Today's session with a federal mediator is the fourth since impasse was declared.

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