Dixon Public Schools Announce Strike Child Care Plan - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Dixon Public Schools Announce Strike Child Care Plan

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Teachers in Dixon, Illinois will officially go on strike on Thursday morning. After negotiating for almost a year, the Dixon Education Association and school board could not reach an agreement. Sticking points are salary and working conditions. Teachers say they have not had a raise in 2-years, and they want new teaching resources and smaller class sizes. However, the district says they cannot afford it.

During the strike the district is going to provide child care, but not for the first few days. With school canceled, many parents are left trying to figure out what they will do with their children.

"I'm going to take the whole day off and Monday my husband's dad is going to watch them," says Tara Thrasher.

As parents pick up their children from school on Wednesday, many are looking for places their kids can go during the strike.

"I mean there are always family and friends that are willing to help, but that's not always the case for everyone," adds Thrasher.

The district is not offering childcare Thursday and Friday.

"It's taking us time to get a handle on how many kids to expect," says Margo Empen, Assistant Superintendent at Dixon Public Schools, "We need to make sure we have the appropriate plans in place with our Para-professionals and our support staff."

District officials notified parents that childcare will start on Monday for kindergarten through 5th grade students. The district sent out emails and phone messages asking parents to sign up for childcare as soon as possible.

"We want to get ahead on how many kids are interested in coming," adds Empen, 'So we can get an appropriate site and plan appropriate activities, so they stay interested during the day."

Exact locations have not been picked, because it will depend on how many students attend.

"We wanted to get an idea of the age ranges, because we would like to keep a bulk of the kids in their original building if possible," says Empen.

District staff, school administrators, Para-professionals and other staff will watch students. However, all the district can offer is activities.

"We've been tossing around ideas such as movies, opening our computer labs for computer games, and having our libraries accessed for books. Actual teaching and instruction will not be going on," adds the Assistant Superintendent.

Students will have to bring a sack lunch and parents need to provide transportation. The district will offer childcare for the duration of the strike, but that only eases some of parents concerns.

"We are going to try to do what we can, but I'm not the teacher," says parent Leslie Herb, "I can try my best to teach them at home, but that doesn't mean I'm going to teach it the right way."

The union and district will resume negotiations at 6pm Thursday. 

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