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Parents Are Caught in the Middle in Contentious Louisville Teachers Strike

Louisville schools have a tradition of sports pride. The district is now suffering from a divisive teachers strike.

An ongoing teachers' strike is straining relations within a Stark County community.  Teachers in Louisville walked off the job on Nov. 2nd after failing to reach an agreement with the district on a new contract.

WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports that the dispute has left at least one parent feeling caught in the middle.   

Debra Reifsnyder has a daughter in second grade at Louisville City Schools. She says the strike has opened fault lines in the community.

“It’s not fun and it’s not pretty, and the children are suffering and the town’s divided,” says Reifsnyder.

She’s concerned that the substitute teachers hired by the district may not all be qualified instructors. She’s concerned about safety and the learning environment, but mostly she’s frustrated that as a parent she is helpless in resolving the dispute.

“We have no voice, we have no say, it’s our children, it’s public school, we’re tax payers.”

Louisville teachers rejected a proposed contract because of what they call unclear language about evaluations and layoffs.  

Louisville Education Association spokeswoman Angela Emmons says the union has asked the school board to restart talks but has heard nothing.

“We can’t go any further at this point until they agree to sit down and actually negotiate with us, sit down with us across the table and speak about the issues.”

The current contract expired in June.  The district has not returned calls for comment.

Jeff is your average chemist turned radio host and reporter. He currently hosts middays on WKSU and has reported extensively on science, politics, business, and the environment.