Dixon school district leaders meet at the bargaining table - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Dixon school district leaders meet at the bargaining table after first day of strike

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DEA lead negotiator Dolph Ricks DEA lead negotiator Dolph Ricks

While Dixon students are getting a break from class Thursday, district leaders are still hard at work. Teachers and administrators were in the middle of contract negotiations that could end the strike.

Bargaining started at 7 p.m. Thursday evening after a day of picketing, which hasn't happened in Dixon since the early 1980's.

"We just want a fair contract, we want the board to negotiate with us." -explains Washington Elementary School Kindergarten teacher Jill Stoker.

All five district schools had teachers marching, chanting and protesting for change. Dixon Education Association, or DEA, union members are asking for a 3.75% base salary raise, but they say district problems go beyond wages.

"Special education and the way the state is handling that, we need help, we need more people in our classrooms." -adds Stoker.

Jefferson School Special Education teacher Carrie King agrees, "We are short on staff, we need more textbooks in our classrooms, better technology, we need more classroom aids to help to support our special education students." -she says.

After a four-hour closed session at Wednesday night's school board meeting, board members and administrators say they are willing to compromise at the bargaining table. Their latest offer includes a 1% base salary raise and requires teachers to contribute more to their healthcare.

"We're not bringing back the same things we have in the past." -says Superintendent Mike Juenger.

DEA negotiators are also inching closer to middle ground.

"We reviewed our proposal early this morning, throughout the entire day and the entire afternoon, and there's going to be some movement on our behalf, but the ball is in the school board's court to counter-offer." -says Reagan Middle School Physical Education teacher and DEA lead negotiator Dolph Ricks.

Both negotiating teams were still at the district's central office bargaining when this story aired. We will bring you updates as they become available. Should the strike last over the weekend, daycare for kindergarten through 5th grade students will be provided Monday. Parents began registering for that service this week.

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