Galesburg community anxious to settle teacher contract negotiations

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Contract talks resumed Tuesday between striking Galesburg teachers and the school district.

This is the first face-to-face meeting with a federal mediator in a week. As teachers arrived for talks, they are on a mission to seal the deal.

"We want to be back in our classrooms," said negotiator and teacher Russ Ullrich.

Hundreds of striking teachers were back on the picket line for the seventh day.

Government teacher Craig Hillier is coming up with classroom material from the strike.

"I think it's huge to get it done," he said. "Let's get it done. Get kids back in school."

A damp, blustery morning did not ruin their resolve to settle the strike.

"To know that negotiations are back in force, I think that just really can be uplifting," said Michelle Marshall, a school psychologist.

Life goes on in Galesburg as the walkout continued and dozens of volunteers pitched in to make 400 sack lunches.

"Some of the kids don't have food to eat for lunch," said Susan Ferguson, Knox County Academy.

They delivered to eight Galesburg locations on Tuesday.

Youngsters at the Knox County Housing Authority were served by some of their teachers.

"We need people over here to fill lunches, pack lunches for kids," said Laura Saey, Galesburg Education Association.

The teamwork during this tough time is triggering emotions from teachers.

"It's been hard for all of us," Ullrich concluded. "Hopefully, we can get back to our kids again."

Teachers are holding a community forum for parents at 6 p.m., Tuesday, at Carl Sandburg College, Room C-102.