CPS to extend hours at Children First alternative sites if strike continues until Thursday

Spetember 11, 2012 (CHICAGO)

More than 100 schools will be open until 2:30 each day, starting Thursday, if necessary.

Tuesday, on the city's North Side, a group of parents organized their own strike camp for students.

Some parents from Lincoln Square's Burley Elementary School took matters into their own hands. They borrowed a church building and are taking turns entertaining and watching the kids. It is not ideal, but they are putting a positive spin on it.

"We wanted to provide an alternative so they didn't have to cross a picket line," said camp volunteer Wendy Katten. "It's very uncomfortable and awkward. We wanted to give kids a place to go."

Katten put together this temporary camp. While she hopes for a resolution soon, she supports the teachers and understands there are big issues at stake.

"We need a balance of what are the short-term issues that can be resolved right now and what are the long term battles about public education that won't be solved this week," Katten said.

Most of these campers started school last week.

No doubt they are having fun. But ABC7 asked a group of 3rd and 4th grade boys, Do they even miss school?

"I think it's better to be at school because I really miss my friends, and I don't get to see them as much," said Leo Smolensky.

Some even miss the content.

"Here at strike camp, it's fun, but you don't get to do science experiments," said Ben Crotty. "And I'd sort of rather be learning because that's sort of what we have to do."

And there's the bottom line:

"The strike could go on for a long time," said student Eli Cohen. "Let's say it goes on for the whole week, then we'll have one week shorter of summer...I do not like that."

For now, the kids and their parents are trying to make the most of it, but they all look forward to getting back to school.

There are other parents-driven alternatives on the West and South sides. Parents looking for options can check with their school's parent organization.

It seems some parents are creating their own alternatives that keep their kids busy and maintain support for the teachers.

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