Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Parents Scramble for Child Care amid Teacher Strike

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Parents Scramble for Child Care amid Teacher Strike

Article excerpt

SEATTLE - The city opened more of its community centers Monday to help Seattle parents who were scrambling for child care as a teacher strike entered its fourth day. Several of the centers quickly filled, forcing them to turn families away. Seattle Parks and Recreation spokesman David Takami said 21 community centers are taking care of some 2,000 children in kindergarten through sixth grade free of cost, and that number is rising. Many of the centers are at capacity, and the effort is costing the city about $21,000 a day, he said.

"It's pretty much been an early-morning mad dash for kids to get into camp, said Jason Busbee, a front-desk coordinator at the Queen Anne Community Center.

Busbee described the atmosphere as "one big party, with volunteers helping oversee activities that included kickball, foosball and lawn darts. The center even ordered bouncy houses.

The strike, over issues that include pay raises and the length of the school day, has delayed the start of the public school year for about 53,000 students. Many teachers in Washington state's largest school district say they have gone six years without a cost-of- living raise, making it difficult to live in Seattle, where expenses have been rising in part from the influx of highly paid tech workers.

Seattle Public Schools provided raises totaling 8 percent out of local levy money in that time.

The sides resumed negotiations this past weekend, and parents were staying flexible while they wait for a deal. Kim Flanery-Rye had to bring her 7-year-old son to work one day and had his uncle watch him another. Her husband worked from home the third.

"This is really a great way to make sure our children are taken care of, said Kim Flanery-Rye, who dropped her son Monday at Miller Community Center.

Last week, the parks department expanded its before- and after- school programs to all-day care at 16 community centers, with capacity for just under 900 students. This week, Mayor Ed Murray directed the department to bring in additional volunteers and staff, bringing the total capacity to 3,000.

As tough as the strike has been on parents who were counting on having their kids in school, many still support the teachers. …

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