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When will it end?

Parents preparing for kids out of class

DIXON – Crystal Gapski wants to know how long a strike will last.

The mother of three students asked the most common question among concerned parents picking up their children at Lincoln Elementary School on a snowy Tuesday afternoon.

After the Dixon Education Association and Dixon School Board failed to reach an agreement early Tuesday, teachers announced a strike starting Thursday, canceling regular classes.

“I just don’t want to see them get too far behind in their schoolwork,” Gapski said.

Parents like Patrick Schmall now are planning for no school.

“My wife and I own our own business, so my kid will be with me,” Schmall said. “I feel sorry for other parents who might not have that option.”

Many parents hadn’t yet decided whether they would utilize the free child care services the district plans to offer starting Monday, if the teachers are still on strike. Margo Empen, assistant superintendent, said some parents already have called the schools asking about the child care.

James Lawson said he will have to look after four of his grandchildren while they are out of school.

Connie Jarrett said her family will not utilize the school’s child care services, because of how much is not known about the program.

The mother of two Lincoln students said she is concerned a long strike would push the school year into summer, and the school does not have air conditioning. Other parents raised concerns about losing spring break.

Superintendent Michael Juenger said the amount of makeup days will be negotiated once the strike is over. For every day classes are canceled, the district will lose general state aid funds.

Jarrett, like many others, sympathized with the teachers, who are asking for a pay increase and more special education staff.

“I think the teachers deserve what they are asking for,” Jarrett said. “They work very hard and give a lot out of their own pockets, and I appreciate it.”

Chris Durham, who met his son at Lincoln’s door, said he understands where the teachers are coming from and was surprised a strike did not come sooner.

Another man picking up his son at Lincoln, who said he wanted to remain anonymous so his son would not receive retribution, blamed the school board and teachers for not resolving the issue.

“How long have they been at it?” he asked of negotiations that started last March. “I think it’s pathetic when you have adults who can’t come to an agreement for the sake of a child’s education, and that’s just how I feel about it.”

The next negotiation session is set for Thursday.

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