School on hold in Galesburg as teachers strike awaiting ‘fair contract’

Some 4,500 Galesburg students will not be going back to school on Thursday.

The first day of a teachers’ strike is forcing classes to be canceled until further notice.

With honking horns and waving signs, Galesburg teachers picket instead of preparing classrooms.

“We definitely didn’t feel that welcome,” said Tami Qualls, who teaches at Galesburg High.

The welcome back message at Galesburg High is countered with a contract stalemate.

“It’s sad because we really want to be in that classroom doing our job,” she said.

But with classes originally set to start on Thursday, kids must stay home indefinitely.

“The schools will be closed, and no athletics or activities at all,” said Superintendent Bart Arthur. “We’re going to have to go into a lockdown situation until we can get this thing settled.”

The Board of Education is expected to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday evening, August 13, 2014. The Galesburg Education Association is asking the board for more talks. But there’s nothing set as of Wednesday afternoon.

The situation is tough on parents like Kristie Spencer, who has three kids in Galesburg schools.  Spencer and her kids delivered food to striking teachers on Wednesday.

“We want a fair contract,” Spencer said. “These teachers have our babies for six-and-a-half hours a day. They’re such an important role in our children’s lives.”

Teachers are showing solidarity. They say this fight is more about safety, schedules and job security than salaries.

“I am doing the right thing,” Qualls said. “This is the right thing. We’re standing together, united for a good cause.”

“The longer it goes, the worse it will be,” Arthur concluded. “I’m hoping we can get this thing settled.”

Until then, it will be a strike instead of school in Galesburg.

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