Negotiations began a month after the district passed a levy.
LIBERTY -- School bells in Liberty will be ringing Aug. 29 for class, but before teachers get back to the business of teaching, the district and the teachers union will be meeting with a federal mediator today.
Negotiations began in June, just one month after residents passed an operating levy. Talks were moving along until July 18 when both sides could not see eye to eye on some bargaining issues.
"We are very early in the negotiation process, and I feel confident both parties want to reach a fair and amicable agreement," said Robert Lackey, president of the Liberty Board of Education at Tuesday night's meeting.
Lackey also read a statement informing the audience of concerned parents and teachers that both sides had agreed on one item: not to comment on negotiations in public unless both sides agree.
Parent Sandie Webber said she doesn't want history to repeat itself. Seven years ago teachers walked the picket lines, which according to Webber divided the community. "I don't want to see that happen again."
Parent Judy Saddle is concerned about teachers who have retired over the past few years and have yet to be replaced by the district. "I hope our kids will not be sitting in study hall rather than in a classroom."
Webber says, "We have worked very hard as over the last two years to get this levy passed in May; we do not want to see this board not move on issues that are brought to them by teachers and support staff."
In other school business, the board was informed Liberty Township leaders would like to apply for a $200,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to fund a new recreation area on the north side of where the old high school once stood. The grant application must be filed in February with the condition the township would own the vacant school property and maintain it. School Board member John Lallo says, "With talk of a new Wal-Mart possibly coming to the area, I think we need to keep in mind the possible gain the district will have if the board has control of the property."
Early planning ideas call for a sidewalk that would stretch over Interstate 80 to the library near state Route 204. Some ideas would include a gazebo, benches and possibly a playground.
More information will be given to the board and the community in the coming months.