The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 25, 2014

DACC, DCDC adjust to increase in students

By Karen Blackledge
The Danville News

DANVILLE — DANVILLE — Some kids, who were off school Tuesday because of the Danville teachers’ strike, spent the day swimming and celebrating Earth Day.

Eight students were part of a camp at the Danville Area Community Center. They usually are there after school but they expect to spend today, Thursday and Friday at the center because of the strike.

Teachers are expected back in their classrooms Monday morning, according to Danville Education Association President Dave Fortunato.

Graduation has been pushed back from June 6 to June 13 because of the strike. The approximately 190 members of the Danville Education Association have been working without a contract since June 2012. Every member will picket at the high school today, the final day of the strike.

Community center campers were busy Tuesday swimming, going on a nature walk and coloring Earth Day posters to be displayed in the center and later taken home, said camp counselor Heather Andrusis. Working with her was fellow counselor Lisa Dolen.

“We plan to be doing some cooking later in the week,” Dolen said of a rock candy project.

The kids swam twice a day. They also played basketball, volleyball and dodgeball and sometimes watching movies and playing word games.

“Today was learn something new day and today we’re learning about the earth,” Andrusis said Tuesday.

Nine-year-old Abigail Thomas was sad to miss school. “I like school. I like STEM,” the fourth-grader said of science, technology, engineering and math.

“I don’t like being out of school,” said 6-year-old kindergarten student Cayne Stroup. He said he misses his friends and recess.

Ella Meadows, a 5-year-old kindergarten student, planned to play soccer with her sister, Nora, 7, who is also part of the camp, when they got home. Nora is a first-grader.

The Danville Child Development Center has about 50 kids all day at its Bloom Road location because of the teachers’ work stoppage.

“We haven’t gotten any calls from parents outside the program,” said Center Executive Director Diana Dixon.

Students at the center are from the after-school, before-school and summer programs.

They are involved with various activities, including outside time when the weather is nice, computer time and games.

“It’s been a little bit of a crunch on our staff to have them all day long — that number of them,” Dixon said of the staff who usually works with the kids two-and-a-half hours a day compared with about 10 hours daily now.

Because they don’t have the space or the staff to run the preschool program and school-age programs simultaneously, the preschool program at Bloom Road is on a hiatus until the strike is over, she said.

“Preschool also follows the district calendar,” she said. The Bloom Road program does not operate when school isn’t in session.

One dad and son, in the district, were taking advantage of time off by visiting a college this week.

Among activities still planned was the high school National Honor Society induction Wednesday night.

Kasey Getkin, a junior at Danville, said she has been practicing all week for track and they had a meet Tuesday. She also worked at the camp at the community center Monday. In addition, she was given homework for the week.

Including spring break, the total number of days Danville students were off school will be 11 days.

“We’ve been getting a lot of positive remarks,” Fortunato said.

The next step in the dispute will be nonbinding arbitration automatically goes into effect as of June 15, he said.

An independent arbitrator will be appointed to conduct a hearing and make a decision on a new contract which will be subject to a vote by the teachers and by the district. He expects that process to take about two months.

Email comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com.