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updated: 2/1/2013 5:30 PM

District 33: Preparations in place for strike, settlement

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There should be few surprises come Monday for parents of roughly 4,000 students in West Chicago Elementary District 33, officials say, whether teachers are back in the classroom or walking picket lines.

Gina Steinbrecher, the district's community relations specialist, says officials have been working to keep parents abreast of the developing strike threat through phone calls, emails and the website at www.wego33.org.

Parents received an email outlining the situation on Thursday night and three separate telephone messages were expected to go out Friday afternoon.

The information blitz comes as the school board and teachers union struggle to reach a contract agreement after more than 16 months at the bargaining table. The district's 284 teachers say they will walk off the job Monday if a settlement isn't in place before the scheduled start of classes. The two sides met twice this week and are slated to return to the table at 1 p.m. Sunday.

If there is a strike, Steinbrecher said Gary and Pioneer schools will offer programs for roughly 940 students in grades one through five who have preregistered. Both those facilities will operate on a normal school day schedule Monday with one exception: dismissal will be about five minutes later than usual.

No such programs will be offered for students in grades six through eight, kindergarten or preschool.

Students who have preregistered for the programs and normally ride the bus, will be picked up and dropped off at their regular stops, she said. Students who have preregistered and normally walk to school should be at their home schools before 8:05 a.m. Monday and will be taken by bus to either Gary or Pioneer and then returned to their home schools.

Preregistered students who normally attend Gary, Currier or Indian Knoll schools will attend classes at Gary. Preregistered students who normally attend Pioneer, Turner or Wegner schools will attend classes at Pioneer.

Steinbrecher said principals and other adults will be on duty throughout the day at all District 33 schools to answer questions and assist with potential problems.

She said the district has been in regular contact with parents about the ongoing contract talks since winter break.

On Friday, she said, the district placed separate calls to parents of students who are preregistered for programs at Gary, to parents of students who are preregistered for programs at Pioneer, and to parents of all other students in the district.

The district also will send phone messages and email alerts to all parents on either Sunday evening or early Monday morning -- depending on how late negotiations go -- and its website will be updated as warranted.

All district information is available in both English and Spanish.

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