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Back to the bargaining table for Fairland board

Federal mediator George Albu has asked the two sides in the Fairland School District labor dispute to sit down with him tomorrow morning, and work on an agreement that will end the nearly two week old strike.

Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) Local 345 President Fred Workman said he is not optimistic that the mediation session will produce a positive result.

"I'd like to think something is possible," Workman said. "But there have been so many roadblocks."

Workman said morale remains high among those on the picket line, in spite of the heat and humidity. He added that people in the community have been stopping by, offering drinks and words of encouragement.

Fairland Superintendent Jerry McConnell said as far as he knows, classes will resume Monday, one week after school was scheduled to start.

McConnell said the middle school students, grades six through eight, will initially have classes at Fairland High School.

McConnell said the renovation work is not completed at the middle school, and inspectors who must perform a life safety evaluation refuse to cross the picket line to examine the work.

A life safety evaluation is an inspection of the facility's fire alarm and sprinkler system. A building can't be used unless it passes the state test.

McConnell said the new high school is more than twice the size currently needed to handle the number of high school students enrolled in the district, so he doesn't anticipate the inclusion of middle schoolers will pose much of a problem.

McConnell said he thought parents will be understanding about the situation.

"Everyone would agree, even though there are differences of opinion on the strike, that there kids should be getting an education, " McConnell said. "And that's our goal." Teresa Moore/The Ironton Tribune