YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown City School Board held a meeting on Wednesday, just 24 hours after the Youngstown teachers union issued a 10-day strike notice.

The start of the school year is just weeks away. We spoke with people on both sides of the issue and a concerned former student.

“My main message is for both parties. I need them to come together. We are a village. We are losing these kids left and right — streets, failure and to the system,” said Million Perry Phifer, a graduate of Youngstown City Schools.

During Wednesday night’s meeting, Phifer addressed the school board members and teachers in the room.

“I don’t know if it’s about money. I don’t know if it’s about what’s going in your purse, but we have these kids. We’re talking about a strike how many days before we go to school? These kids have books and bookbags ready to go? Come on. Someone has to come together and focus on the children,” Phifer said.

Jim Courim, a spokesperson with the teachers union, says they’re hopeful that the school year will begin on time.

“We’re hoping that we can get a deal done prior to August 23, the first day of school for students. That’s what our hope is. We’re always optimistic the board will meet with us,” Courim said.

Tiffany Patterson, president of the Youngstown City School Board, says the district is willing to have a conversation. According to a press release from the district, the hang-up appears to be a 5.5% raise and the lack of a fact-finding process.

“Whenever the teachers agree to talk, we’re ready to negotiate. We want what’s best for the scholars in Youngstown City Schools. We don’t want to see a strike,” Patterson said.

Click here to read the entire press release from the district.

No decision has been made. Teachers are expected to strike starting August 23, which again, is the same day students are scheduled to head back to class.