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City of Seattle opens day camps, so students have alternative during teachers strike

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SEATTLE -- Mayor Ed Murray is trying to help families while the teacher strike continues. He’s asked the city’s community centers to open day camps, so students have a safe place to go instead of school.

Sarah Nottingham wasn’t planning on taking care of 50 children on what should have been the first day of school. But that’s how many showed up Wednesday at the ‘Teacher Strike Camp’ at the Queen Anne Community Center.

“Today actually went really well,” she says. “We’re just coming off summer right now, so we just kind of kept rolling with that same energy, same excitement.”

Kelsey Voss’ son spent part of the summer at the community center. So she was glad she could drop him off there Wednesday, and he could be around friends.

“It’s not school, which I prefer him to be in, but it’s a decent alternative,” she says. “I’m not really sure what we would have done otherwise, I probably would have had to stay home.”

Murray opened 16 camps around the city Wednesday. He says he’s using city budget money to pay for the extra staff and resources.

“We think we can sustain it for a while, we hope we don’t have to. Obviously, the money has to come from things we would have used for other programs.”

There are also a limited number of spots for kids.

“We certainly don’t have 53,000 slots, so the best resolution is for folks to find a way back to the classroom,” he says.

Parents agree. They say they support the teachers and want them to get a fair contract. But they don’t want the strike to go on too long.

“It’s like divorced parents,” says Voss. “The kids kind of get caught in the middle of this.”

She’s glad her son has a place to go right now, but she wants him back in the classroom soon.

“Camp should be over, summertime is pretty much done. I want him to get the best education he can, so hopefully this will resolve itself quickly.”

The total capacity for the 16 community centers camps is 892 slots. The following centers are at capacity: Meadowbrook, Ravenna-Eckstein, Northgate, Queen Anne, Hiawatha, Alki, High Point, and Delridge. There are still slots available at the other centers.
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