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Teachers' leader questions Dixon district plans

Land acquisition, school closure among topics

DIXON – Sandi Sodergren-Baar wanted answers from the school board.

The Dixon Education Association president asked the Dixon School Board about its plans for the 1-cent sales tax, why it plans to spend $2.7 million refurbishing Reagan Middle School, if Superintendent Michael Juenger is planning for more staff cuts, and if the board intends to close Lincoln Elementary School and shift two additional grades to Reagan.

“Comments have been made by the superintendent that the district does not have any money,” Baar said. “In light of these statements, a taxpayer might wonder about the (above) decisions that the board has made.”

Juenger said those questions were answered at the meeting, which was filled with residents, many of them teachers clad in their union shirts.

The board released a position statement expressing interest in buying land for future building projects.

Regarding the 1-cent sales tax, a sports and activities center will not be pursued. Instead, the dollars will be used to complete needed work in the buildings and help keep property taxes down, the statement said.

The board decided to table any decision on improvements to Reagan Middle School. Members are looking at refurbishing just those in the most need of repair, which include the building’s windows. A decision is expected in March.

Juenger said talk of closing Lincoln is untrue. “We’ve had no talks about that.”

As for cuts, he said “those will be explored. That’s nothing new year-to-year.”

Wednesday, the board passed a resolution to approve practice and some interscholastic elementary and high school activities competing in the state tournament, if teachers were to strike.

The Dixon Education Association is proposing more staff and 4 percent more than their previous year’s salary, while the Dixon School Board is asking teachers to take at least a 2-year pay freeze and pay more in health insurance.

Both offers are posted at www2.illinois.gov/elrb/Pages/default.aspx, the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board website.

The school board will meet with teachers for another negotiating session today, and Monday. The union could call a strike as early as Tuesday.

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