AUSTINTOWN - Area teachers hope to come to a tentative agreement today with their local school board.
Negotiations resume this afternoon between the Austintown Education Association and the Board of Education less than a week after the teachers issued a 10-day strike notice. The mediation session also will include federal mediator Doug Corwan.
The union, which represents 315 teachers, nurses, guidance counselors, librarians and speech therapists, voted unanimously on Wednesday to grant the authorization.
"We've been negotiating since May of 2012. It's now February going into March. The students' last day of school is May 17. The whole year has gone," union spokeswoman Barb Tomic said. "It's been a long ordeal."
Despite the ongoing struggle, Tomic said the teachers remain hopeful that an agreement will be reached.
Teachers also plan to gather today at the middle school at the end of the school day to show support for the AEA's bargaining team.
As far as a time frame for the possible strike, Tomic said that hasn't been determined.
"We're very positive, but I don't know what the outcome will be," she said.
Superintendent Vincent Colaluca has said said that negotiations are progressing well and he is confident an agreement will soon be reached.
"It's a thing we will work through. We have great teachers, we love what they've done for us. They are the reason we have received Excellent with Distinction rating," he said. "We continue to move forward, and we know that we'll be able to work something out with our teachers.
''There's no intention to drag this out. We just have to make sure we do it the right way,'' he said.