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Rockford School Strike Moves Into Second Day

Susan Stephens
Striking workers outside of Rockford Public Schools Administration building

Update, 3/16/17 12:30 pm: This morning, the district released Wednesday's student attendance totals for all grade levels.  The official average attendance across the district was 77%. That's down from 92% the previous Wednesday. 

School attendance was down in Rockford on the first day of a three-day strike by school support workers.

Elementary school attendance in Rockford Public Schools was at 81%. That's down 12% from last Wednesday. Some parents had a hard time getting their children to class without school bus service.

About 900 bus drivers, paraprofessionals, and food service workers are on strike through Friday, protesting what they characterize as a dead-end in contract negotiations.

Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ
Superintendent Ehren Jarrett speaks with reporters in his office on the first day of the AFSCME union strike.

  Traffic congestion at schools as children were dropped off and picked up and delays in lunch delivery were among the problems reported on the first day.

Superintendent Ehren Jarrett said administrators considered canceling school during the strike, but decided it was safer for students to be in school.

Jarrett says the district is offering $3.6 million in pay raises over three years: the union wants $10.6 million. Meanwhile, parents are finding alternative transportation for students this morning. And it’s Day Two of take-out pizza and applesauce instead of the usual lunch menu.

Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.
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