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Teachers and parents plead for quick end to strike

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Wednesday night, Dixon, Illinois, parents and teachers begged the Board of Education to reach a quick agreement over teachers' contracts. It was a final plea before teachers join the picket lines Thursday morning.

On the eve of the strike, though, it was sadness, not excitement, for the teachers of Dixon.

"We were sad that this is what it's come to, that we had to say goodbye to our students, not really knowing when we would see them, and reassuring them if they did ask that it's okay, we'll solve this problem, and we'll be back to teaching in no time," said first grade teacher Mandy Dallas.

The teachers, represented by the Dixon Education Association, are asking for new textbooks, classroom technology, smaller class sizes, and more support for special education students. Teachers in the district have been working without a contract since August, and negotiations have been ongoing since last March.

"Our school board did not seem very anxious to settle this contract or to solve some of the problems that we've identified through our negotiation talks, and it was time," explained DEA president Sandi Sodergren-Baar.

The district, though, says the money isn't there. Superintendent Mike Juenger spoke with News Eight Wednesday afternoon, explaining that both state and federal funding is being cut.

"It's not so much that our expenses are growing, it's that our revenue is not. In fact, not only is it not growing, it's going in the opposite direction," said Juenger.

At Wednesday night's special Board of Education meeting, both sides pledged to reach an agreement.

"There's no reason why both sides can't come to a compromise and have school back in session on Monday, the 4th of March," said Dolph Ricks, lead negotiator for the DEA.

Negotiations between the school board and teachers' union are scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. For a link to the district's child care form, click here.