Strike Continues After Rowdy First Day

By M.R. KROPKO, Associated Press Writer

MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio (AP) - Students were back in classrooms Thursday in the second day of a teachers strike, following a day where students roamed hallways and substitutes had trouble keeping control.

"I think that things have become much more orderly. The kids are in classes. Things are not normal, but they're much closer to normalcy," said Superintendent Henry Rish of the 3,958-student suburban Cleveland district.

Security guards and 75 substitutes replaced the district's 235 teachers when the walkout began Wednesday over wages. Thirty-one more substitutes were added Thursday.

Rish said a television on a cart was pushed down some stairs at the high school Wednesday, but that no one was injured.

Chris Bates, a senior, left the school grounds for lunch Wednesday and said the scene was "crazy."

Anthony Peck went into the high school trying to find his son, a ninth- grader. He came out worried and without his son.

"I can't find him. They have no idea where he's at," Peck said. "They (students) are throwing tables in there."

Teachers represented by the Maple Heights Teachers Association went on strike after mediated talks broke down. Their contract expired Saturday.

Teachers want a 6 percent pay increase each year for the next three years. The district offered a 2.5 percent increase in each of the next two years.

Rish said no talks had been scheduled.

"Unless they come off of their request, there's no way. It would bankrupt the school district to pay for their package," he said.

Teachers earned an average of $39,000 under the old contract. The starting teacher salary is $27,936.

Two proposed tax increases were defeated by voters this year.

"We just want to be compensated for the good job we do," said Thomas Osborne, a high school teacher who was on a picket line Wednesday.

"There are other issues involved," he said. "We have been treated like children by the administration, and the district is run by threats and intimidation."

Rish denied any attempt to intimidate the teaching staff.

"I wanted to talk to them about their responsibilities and that we didn't want a strike, and I said it in a letter," Rish said. "I don't think that's intimidation, it's information."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)