Dixon is a small, tight-knit community, facing a big problem. All Dixon public school teachers may soon put down their textbooks and pick up picket signs.
Public school teachers in Dixon have been working without a contract since September, despite negotiations with the school board underway since last spring.
"We've been working with a mediator and trying to get a fair contract for the teachers of Dixon," says Dolph Ricks, lead negotiator for the Dixon Education Association.
On Friday, teachers and the board met from noon until 1:30 A.M. to talk money. Teachers say there's plenty in the budget to offer them a healthy salary, but Superintendent Jim Brown says that's shortsighted.
"This year and probably next year, the educational fund is probably going to be OK, the problem is is that then everything is going to catch up and it's going to take a big hit," says Brown.
Teachers are also vying for better insurance and they say they're overworked and don't have enough say in what goes on in their classrooms.
"I think it's probably inescapable that one way to improve student achievement is to ask more from your teachers," says School Board President Doug Lee.
Unsatisfied with the progress of the talks, the education association filed its intent to strike on Friday. Superintendent Brown will likely sign it Tuesday. Ten days from that date, teachers could go on strike at any time.
"I've been involved on both sides of the fence with strikes, on the administration side and the teacher's side and nobody wins," says Superintendent Brown.
Ricks counters, "We don't feel that our students have missed a beat of getting a good, quality education. And should there come a strike then by all means, whenever that is resolved, when we're back in the classroom, we are professionals and we will give these students a good, quality education."
The next round of negotiations is set for January 18th. If talks falter then, there will be another meeting January 22nd and if talks continue to fail, a strike could be imminent.