Mason teachers question superintendent's leadership, may strike soon

MASON, Ohio -- Mason City School District teachers have put out a warning that they may strike against the superintendent's "questionable" leadership.

Some 650 members were given the authority to strike Wednesday, according to the Mason Education Association President Karrie Strickland. The negotiations team would give a "10-day strike notice" if the union decides to move forward.

“Mason teachers have been bargaining since April, including using the services of a Federal Mediator," Strickland said. "As of yesterday (Tuesday), no agreement has been reached. We are certainly hopeful that negotiations will continue during the summer months, and a contract settlement will be reached. We would like nothing more than to only focus on teaching our students.”

The Mason educators walked together from Mason Middle School to the high school along Mason Montgomery Road Thursday morning, as they headed to their end of year breakfast with the Superintendent Gail Kist-Kline.

News of the possible strike comes in a statement from the Mason Education Association (MEA) criticizing the superintendent for altering programs and jeopardizing the reputation of Mason schools. The association has great concern for the Kist-Kline's leadership and believes she's taking the district down the wrong path, Strickland said.

Strickland said that under Kist-Kline's rule, classroom support has been cut, educational facilities have been eliminated and academic programs have been reduced. MAE doesn't want the district's reputation to fall as a result of the changes.


“Mason teachers greatly value the support of the Mason community. The Mason community deserves a top quality educational institution that draws on our history and tradition of excellence," Strickland said. "However, the path we are on is a dangerous one."

The strike would occur if no negotiation is reached in the teachers' contracts.

"We are hopeful and we believe in what we do each day as a group," she said. "As teachers we're dedicated to our children - they come first and as they leave for the summer, now it's time for us to get busy, work together, and get this thing settled."

School Board President Kevin Wise said the board supports Kist-Kline and said the district wants to work with the teacher's union.

Ware issued the following statement Wednesday:

"The Board would urge everyone to keep in context that this vote comes at a time when the parties are in the midst of negotiations. The Board fully supports Dr. Kist-Kline and has confidence in her leadership. The Board hired Dr. Kist-Kline following a levy failure, and asked her to lead during a time of economic challenge that required us to improve efficiency and make difficult decisions. Under Dr. Kist-Kline's leadership, the district improved academic quality, while reducing costs in a way that protected the classroom.    Economic sustainability is key. Dr. Kist-Kline and our board are committed to providing a wage and benefit package that keeps the school district in line with the market. We will continue to have dialogue with the teachers union on reaching a settlement that achieves this goal."

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