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Parents brace for possible school strike

While students may be ecstatic about the prospect of schools closing, parents possibly left in the lurch may not be so happy about the idea.

Oak Harbor School District officials won’t decide until Sunday afternoon whether or not to hold classes Monday when PSE union employees are scheduled to go on strike. That means parents better plan now for the possibility of schools being closed for an indeterminate amount of time.

Butch Laurion, executive director of the Armed Forces YMCA on Pioneer Way, said he’s been keeping tabs on the status of a possible strike for weeks now.

“Oh, yeah, this is going to impact a lot of people,” Laurion said.

The YMCA staff sent out letters to parents of the 40 kids already registered for part-time, after-school or before-school care at the center, letting them know that full-time care would be available. But that’s just for kids already with the YMCA. Any of the more than 70 families on the existing waiting list or any parent without a care provider could be out of luck.

“The people who will be in the hardest spot will be the ones who haven’t been using child care,” Laurion said. “I’ve already heard about people considering leaving 9- and 10-year-olds home alone.”

Sandy Hart, member of the Broad View Elementary PTA, said the possibility of a school closure won’t have a huge effect on her family since she doesn’t work outside of the home. But she points out that families with elementary-aged children in which both parents work may be in a quandary.

“They won’t know what to do and they won’t know if they have a problem until the last minute,” she said.

Teresa Kenworthy, mother of a high school senior, has a different worry. She is concerned that a protracted strike and school closure would lead to more days being tacked onto the end of the school year. Her son, Kasey, is signed up to leave for Army boot camp just two weeks after graduation.

“If it’s short term, it’s no big deal,” she said. “If it’s long term, it’s going to be a very big deal.”

Reporter Cynthia Woolbright contributed to this story. You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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