UPDATE: Day 5 of Dixon Teacher Strike

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UPDATE: DIXON (WIFR) – For the first time since teachers in Dixon went on strike last Thursday, members of the Education Association will sit down with concerned parents.

Parents of Dixon schoolchildren will get their questions answered tonight at the Elks Lodge about why the teacher’s strike is still going on.

168 Dixon teachers have been striking since Thursday for better pay and working conditions. More negotiations began today at 1 p.m. One member of the Dixon education association tells me they will present the teacher’s most recent proposal during tonight’s meeting.

They tell us they hope to be back in the classroom by tomorrow, but they won’t know the results of today’s negotiation session until 6:00 p.m. at the earliest.

Teachers say they expect about 100 parents to show up tonight. We’ll bring you the latest fromteh bargaining table tonight on the 23 News at 10.

UPDATE: DIXON (WIFR) -- In Dixon, it's another unscheduled day off for over 2,600 students due to day three of the teacher's strike.
168 Dixon teachers are in their third day of strikes, after no deal was able to be reached during talks last night.

Classes at Dixon schools were cancelled for the day and another negotiation is scheduled for tonight. The teachers have been striking since Thursday over financial issues and classroom conditions. Teachers are requesting a 3.75% annual pay increase and salary incentives for experience and education. In yesterday’s 10 hour meeting, the board offered a three year contract equal to the cost of living index.

“I’m amazed at our negotiation team that they’re putting so much effort into us and that they care so much about us and our students. I wish it could be done quicker, because I want to be back in my classroom teaching, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.”
At tonight’s meeting, the board is expected to release a statement sometime before then.

The school District is providing childcare to parents who need it while the strike continues.

UPDATE: DIXON (WIFR) – Finances are just one of the many reasons Dixon teachers are striking for a second day. Both the District and Dixon Education Association met this afternoon for another bargaining session. We’re told there was some progress.

More than 160 teachers began their strike yesterday morning. Union leaders say the protest is their last resort. DEA members have been negotiating for nearly a year and have been working without a contract since August. Another negotiation session is scheduled for Sunday. If a contract can’t be reached, schools will remain closed on Monday, but the District will provide free child care starting Monday.

UPDATE: More than a hundred Dixon teachers left their classrooms today and took to the streets protesting for better benefits and a better learning environment for students. 23 News reporter Lauren Kravets spoke to some educators who say they just want what is fair.

166 teachers with the Dixon education association are getting support from each other and the community. They're on strike, demanding what they call a fair contract. Some parents even joined the protest.

"They deserve smaller classes,” says Jerrie Eich. “My daughter has complained over and over about how the big class interrupts her learning."

Teachers also want more money, a nearly four percent pay increase. Teachers say they're out here striking not just for themselves but for students. They say this is about much more than salary.

Patty Hallquist has a child who went to Dixon schools.

"It was really difficult when she was in high school, she didn't have a text book that she could take home because they were short supplies,” second grade teacher, Patty Hallquist.

Hallquist says kids are still facing similar challenges and now, the strike is forcing students to miss school.

"We've done our absolute best to try to keep this from happening,” said Dixon High School English teacher, Bonnie Driver.

Teachers are taking turns braving the cold, while others unite at DEA headquarters to warm up and offer support.

"I applaud them for all their hard work and sticking together as an association, I think it makes a difference,
said DEA president Sandi Sodergren-Baar.

Union members hope the strike will make a difference in negotiations tonight. Both sides ill meet at 7:00 to try to make some progress.

The average salary in Dixon is about $55,000. The starting salary is $32,000 and the top pay is about $70,000. The district wants teachers to contribute more to healthcare, so the union says some of them could have their pay cut by an extra $9,000.

DIXON (WIFR) -- A lack of money is also an issue in the Dixon school district and that's why dozens of teachers will walk the picket line in less than 24 hours.

Sign after sign line a downtown Dixon window, displays phrases like "Got contract? We Don't!" and "Fighting for the Schools our Students Deserve."
Come Thursday, members of the Dixon Education Association will carry them as they strike. The protest means no school for students, but District 170 does have a plan. Superintendent Michael Juenger says the district will provide free childcare for kindergarten through fifth grades.
"We know that many of our families, both parents have to work and what we're trying to do is provide some place for them to have their children," says Juenger.

However, one parent isn't fond of that idea.

"I wouldn't want my daughter to have to go cross a picket line where all the teachers are standing outside with their picket signs it would prompt a lot of questions," says Darla Foulker.

Foulker will send her kindergartner to her own day care instead. Juenger says this entire situation is unfortunate.
"It's going to be traumatic, I don't know if it's too big of a word or not because it's a huge deal."

District childcare locations are still undetermined and services won't start until Monday, if the strike lasts that long.
Parents interested in childcare need to sign up on the district’s website by noon tomorrow. Teachers say they don’t want to strike, but it’s come to this point. They’ve been negotiating for nearly a year and have been working without a contract since August.

The Dixon School Board will meet tonight to brainstorm on their contract offer and they’ll continue negotiations with the DEA tomorrow.
Both sides can’t reach an agreement on teacher raises, higher healthcare contributions, and hiring more staff.

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