Keep Buckeye Schools Open

Strikes by most government employees, including those at public schools, should not be permitted. Yet, even in places where they are illegal, they occur.

When public school employees go on strike, the only responsible decision a board of education can make is to do all in its power to ensure classes are not disrupted. Even a few days away from school is detrimental to students in today’s demanding education environment.

Buckeye Local schools are scheduled to begin holding classes for the new year on Aug. 27. Prior to that, school personnel will be busy preparing for several days.

But unless something changes, it is possible about 85 school district employees will not be on the job after Aug. 25. Instead, they will be on picket lines outside the district’s four schools.

They are non-teaching employees, including bus drivers, cooks, maintenance workers, custodians, aides, mechanics and secretaries. They are members of Local 373 of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees.

Union and school district representatives have been attempting without success to hammer out a new contract covering the workers. But as of Monday night, efforts seemed to be at a stalemate.

A federal mediator has become involved and has scheduled a meeting for 11 a.m. today, with representatives of the union and the school system. It is to be hoped something can be worked out then to avert a strike.

With the new school year just days away, board of education members have no choice but to prepare for a strike, however. To that end, they agreed a few days ago to hire a Michigan company that specializes in dealing with such work stoppages. Presumably, the firm will help find substitutes to handle duties normally dealt with by union members.

One board member, Joe Zelek Sr., voted against employing the Michigan company.

Other board members were unequivocally right to make the decision. Again, their overriding responsibility is to keep Buckeye Local schools open. Their responsibility is to their students, parents and taxpayers – and they should continue to keep that in mind if a strike occurs.