Ideas for parents to cope if Portland teachers strike

PORTLAND, Ore. -- If the strike happens, Portland Public Schools has already said it will close schools next Thursday, Friday and the following Monday, Feb. 20, 21, and 24.

Some parents, like Tracy Jendritza, say they won't cross picket lines even if the district reopens schools the following week with replacement teachers.

"Our dilemma was we didn't want to cross the picket line, but we also did not want our children to miss out on their education," she said.

Jendritza and another mother hired a private tutor to home-school their kids.

The tutor is a state-certified Portland substitute teacher, who won't cross the union's picket lines.

The sub will get paid about $125 a day, says Jendritza.

Other families are organizing grassroots tutoring or neighborhood day care.

A group of parents started a website designed to link parents and help them discuss local alternatives.

KATU also began developing a master list of local options by calling a hundred organizations, churches, private schools, day cares, private tutoring companies and other local groups.

The vast majority will not be providing any special services during a strike, or are already filled.

OMSI plans to offer day camps on Thursday and Friday next week for around $50 per child.

In Northeast Portland, Children's Gym will also offer day care services for a similar price as long as the strike continues.

The Saturday Academy in North Portland plans to offer limited daytime or after-school programs, but hadn't yet finalized plans.

There may also be space at Portland YMCA facilities, but a spokesman said parents need to contact each individual center to check on availability.

Within schools, SUN programs may operate, but the district says parents should check with the local coordinator.

A group in Southeast Portland called One With Heart will also offer strike day camps.

Mad Science of Portland and Vancouver also said it is considering offering day camps, but had not developed firm plans yet.

A spokeswoman for Portland Public Schools said many Parent-Teacher Associations within each school are also developing grassroots ideas or alternatives, such as study groups, rotating family day care options, or similar solutions. You should call your school or PTA to see if it is organizing anything.

Parents can also get help through a community hotline that's being operated 10-and-a-half hours a day on weekdays.

The hotline number is 503-916-3260.

They can take calls in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Somali and Russian. The operators are all district employees doing their regular job in between taking calls.

You can call between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.