TROTWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) – A school district and union leaders addressed a contract battle during Thursday night’s school board meeting. Negotiations for a new teachers union contract have been going on for a year at Trotwood-Madison City Schools.

The Trotwood-Madison Education Association (TMEA) and district leaders have gone to the negotiation table 38 times, a federal mediator was called in, and both parties still have not reached an agreement.

Teachers and staff stood outside of Trotwood-Madison High School and Westbrooke Village Elementary School Thursday morning. They held a “walk-in” demonstration to make a stand. After standing outside for ten minutes, the teachers returned to the building with their students to begin the day.

“We just wanna have acceptable working conditions, so we can continue to come everyday and give it our all, and continue to work for kids,” Westbrooke school counselor Palmer Jordan said.

TMEA President Angela Bruno said without a contract, the district is left with unfilled positions. The entire process is also taking a mental toll on teachers and staff.

“It’s hard,” Bruno said. “There is a lot of anxiety. There is a lot of stress.”

During Thursday night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Reva Cosby said she’s optimistic the district and union will come to an agreement when they meet in two weeks.

“I think the board understands that we have to be fiscally responsible,” Cosby said. “I know that TMEA also understands that. So we’ll probably have a little give and take on the 17th. But I’m very optimistic that we should walk away with that settled.”

Trotwood-Madison teachers will continue to work under the terms of their old contract, which expired June 30, until a new three-year contract is agreed upon.

Bruno said it’s hard to be hopeful when this process has dragged on so long, but she promises Trotwood-Madison teachers will continue to meet the needs of their students.

“We just continue to work every day covering where we need to cover, providing where we need to provide so that they are given the appropriate educational experience,” Bruno said.

TMEA voted down the school board’s last contract and submitted a new proposal last month. That proposal will be the topic of discussion when district and union leaders come to the table for the 39th time on March 17.