Snow and strike and sequestration, oh my!
With a winter storm bearing down Tuesday, a Dixon teachers strike set for Thursday, and federal budget sequestration cuts due Friday, area residents had good reasons to feel uneasy. All may yet be well.
If Sauk Valley residents felt a bit uneasy Tuesday, they had good reason.
First, a big winter storm bore down on the region. Edging northward, snow arrived in the Peoria area by daybreak, reached Bureau County later in the morning, and began blanketing the Sauk Valley around midday.
Then, word began filtering out that the Dixon Education Association called a strike. The work stoppage will begin Thursday, impacting 2,781 students and their families.
Finally, billions of dollars in federal budget sequestration cuts are scheduled to kick in starting Friday. Their effects on government programs could be significant.
But we’ll get through them.
People around here know how to handle snowstorms. Schools let out early, snow plow drivers gear up for busy shifts, motorists slow down, and people adjust their lives accordingly.
Dealing with teachers strikes is another matter. The Sauk Valley has not had many of them of late. The most recent one we recall happened in the Oregon School District in January 2002.
Before that, Bureau Valley School District teachers went on strike in early September 2001. Then came the 9/11 attacks. After the twin towers fell, teachers and school district officials met quickly and settled the strike immediately.
Contingency plans have been established in Dixon. Classes for most students will be canceled for the strike’s duration, although classes at the career center in Sterling will continue.
Still, education will be halted and lives disrupted throughout the Dixon School District until a deal can be reached.
And then, unfinished business from the federal government’s New Year’s “fiscal cliff” crisis has come home to roost. Starting Friday, automatic sequester cuts to federal spending will begin.
Many people across the region, state and nation could be affected. President Barack Obama and his administration have pointed out how social, transportation, education, and other programs will suffer, not to mention military spending.
Obama blames House Republicans for the crisis; Speaker John Boehner points right back at the president.
In its wake, the winter storm will leave a lot of plowing to be done.
We hope Dixon teachers, school board members, Congress and the president can also plow through their disagreements and reach equitable solutions.