While Centralia teachers continue their strike to negotiate new contracts, many parents are left without childcare options.
“Today I had to send my child into the woods with my family members who are loggers because I have no child care,” said Candace Richards, whose son was supposed to attend Fords Prairie on Wednesday. “And I do not blame the teachers for this at all.”
Richards said that although she supports the teacher strike, many parents are left without options for child care.
“It’s going to affect me severely,” Richards said. “I’m going to have to take my kid to work. Most people don’t have that option. … If I was anybody else, I wouldn’t be able to.”
Kylie Sexsmith, who has two children in the district, is a stay-at-home mom and said childcare isn’t as big of a problem for her as it would be other families. However, she noted that many families didn’t have much time to prepare alternatives.
“I think (Centralia School District Superintendent Mark) Davalos thought things would go differently and teachers wouldn’t strike,” Sexsmith said. “It left a lot of parents scrambling, for sure.”
Monica Laufenberg, who has four children in the school district, said she is in favor of the teacher strike and noted that the strike isn’t just about salary, but behavior issues in the schools and class sizes.
“I definitely wouldn’t want to be strong armed by a court order,” Laufenberg said of the injunction Centralia School District plans to file to compel teachers to break the strike and go to work. “Besides the pay, there are other issues on the table.”
Laufenberg said she was not as severely impacted by the delayed school start date because she reached out to family members as soon as she heard teachers may strike.
“I actually just kind of have a little side business, so my schedule is kind of flexible, but as soon as the teachers voted to strike … (I knew that) if I wasn’t able to be here that I would have a back up plan,” Laufenberg said.
Richards said she has yet to speak to a parent that doesn’t support the teacher strike.
“I have never spoken to one that isn’t in support,” Richards said. “It sucks for everybody — nobody wants a strike. We want our kids to go back to school, but the district shouldn’t be allowed to steal their money.”
Richards’ son was accepted into the Olympia School District, but Richards decided to keep him in Centralia after two board members voted against the strike action on Sunday.
“I put my faith back in the community,” Richards said. “Now, they are filing an injunction without the strike resolution being passed.”