Although teachers in Lake Forest High School District 115 in Lake County, Ill., are on strike, the school will open today, thanks to encouragement from administrators and the school board and help from about 50 substitute teachers and 50 community volunteers, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Teachers have been on strike since Wednesday, resulting in the loss of three school days for students so far. If more than half the students show up for class this morning, the district can count this as a legal school day. Normally 180 school days are scheduled, but Illinois law only requires school to be in session for 176 days to make an official school year. Therefore, school years must be extended in some way if more than four school days are missed during the year, such as snow days or teachers’ strikes.
Although there was considerable applause at a meeting where the plan was announced, other parents expressed concern over whether asking students, subs, and volunteers to cross picket lines was an appropriate strategy.
“Why are we teaching students not to honor the labor forces that historically are in play here?” the Tribune quoted one parent as saying. “Why wouldn’t my child learn more on the picket line than here? I am appalled that people would applaud.”
Classes will touch on the curriculum, including a criminal justice class to be led by volunteers from the Lake Forest Police Department.
In a statement, the board said they were “deeply disappointed” with the teachers’ “unrealistic salary expectations.” The union is seeking raises of 5 to 6.5 percent, which teachers say are necessary to compensate for a pay freeze last year.
The strike is also over benefits and a differential pay grid for new teachers, which would have them earning less than their veteran counterparts.