Beaver students walk out, briefly

LISBON – A group of students at Beaver Local High School staged a walkout Monday morning in support of their teachers, whose union has reached an impasse in contract negotiations with the school board.

Approximately 50 students, mostly seniors and juniors, walked out of their classes and exited the school around 9:30 a.m. Monday in what was planned to be a march to the district administration building, about 100 yards north of the high school.

The plan was quickly dissolved, however, when teachers asked the students to return to their classes. School administrators, including Principal Tom Cunningham, allegedly threatened the students with disciplinary action, though one of the walkout students said she understood the position he was in.

“He was just doing his job,” she said sympathetically.

According to one senior student, she and a small group of friends came up with the idea in the wake of the March 11 school board meeting, which featured a silent protest by numerous members of the Beaver Local Education Association, which represents teachers in the district.

“We actually just decided to do it last week,” she said. She asserted the students weren’t expressly taking the side of the teachers over administration, though the action reflected their affection for their educators. “We care about our teachers,” she said.

The main concern of the students is for a compromise to be reached between the BLEA and the district with the arrival of a federal mediator, who is being dispatched to Lisbon next week to help forge an agreement. “Hopefully, on the 26th, it can just be settled,” another student said.

The students said they don’t want teachers to go out on strike should mediation fail, especially seniors, who want to end their final year at Beaver Local with the same group of teachers they have known since freshman year in the classrooms.

The students say that another walkout is possible if the federal mediator’s efforts don’t succeed in bringing the two sides to an agreement.

The teachers have been working without a contract since August of last year.