Students protest to support teachers
More than 60 Baraboo High School students gathered outside the building before school Thursday to cheer arriving teachers as an expression of their support in the face of proposals to cut public workers’ bargaining rights. The day’s demonstration was an alternative to Wednesday’s action in which more than 200 students rallied briefly on the Courthouse Square after walking out of class.

Baraboo joined the ranks of several Madison-area school districts that have closed due to teacher absences in the wake of Gov. Scott Walker's announced budget repair bill.

On Thursday night, Baraboo School District Administrator Crystal Ritzenthaler said about 120 teachers called in sick for Friday's school day, comprising more than 50 percent of the district's 230 teachers. As a result, the district issued a statement Thursday night cancelling classes.

"We are not able to safely supervise students and provide adequate instruction with the limited staff available," Ritzenthaler stated.

Despite the cancellation of classes, those teachers who did not call in sick are expected to report for work as usual, the announcement states.

Because they are using earned sick leave, the teachers will not be subject to any kind of disciplinary action.

"They are using the leave they're entitled to per the contract," Ritzenthaler said.

In an e-mail message released about 5:45 p.m., Ritzenthaler said the Kids Stop program at East Elementary School will be open and Baraboo's Boys & Girls club will open at 7:30 a.m. to provide places for students to go.

The Wisconsin Dells School District also has canceled classes Friday and scheduled a make-up day Feb. 25, according to the district website.

At least 15 Wisconsin school districts canceled classes Thursday - including Sauk Prairie and Lodi - as thousands of teachers gathered at the State Capitol in Madison to protest Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill. Among its many provisions are restrictions on teachers' rights to collectively bargain anything other than wages and limits on wage increases.

Depending on factors such as future school closings for snow days, Ritzenthaler said Baraboo schools will have to determine later whether an additional day of instruction must be tacked onto the school year.

"It's a very difficult situation and we're trying to deal with it in the very best way that we can right now," she said. "I do understand the concerns of the taxpayers and the parents, because this is a disruption in our student learning."

Baraboo Education Association President Barry Flesch could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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Early Thursday morning students at Baraboo High School showed their support for the teachers' struggle with Walker and the Legislature.

A crowd that eventually grew to more than 60 cheered every time it saw a teacher walk in from the parking lot or drive by in a car.

"We're here to celebrate our teachers being here today and all they're going to sacrifice if this bill gets passed," said junior Keith Whiting. "We're here to just support them and so they know we care."

As the students cheered, BHS social studies teacher Steve Argo was leaving the school. Argo said he chose to take a personal day to join the throngs of state workers in Madison and voice his opposition to Walker's proposed budget repair bill at the State Capitol.

"The personal days are for personal reasons," he said. "Some people use them to go hunting, other people take them for funerals, other people take them for legal situations."

Among the students, juniors Isabella Artripe and Danielle Anderson wore homemade political T-shirts with the slogan "Kill the Bill."

"We appreciate our teachers and all the workers around the state," Artripe said. "We think they do a great job, help a lot of people out."

"They do a wonderful job," Anderson said.

Principal Bill Loss also received cheers as he walked into the building. He noted students missed classes Wednesday to go a rally on the courthouse square, so he approved of the alternative steps they took Thursday.

"I think it shows some initiative on their part to try and recognize teachers," he said. "This is certainly one way they can do that in a more positive way that doesn't disrupt the classroom,"

(22) comments

Kim Galston

[quote]darkenskies said: "All protesting teachers need to be fired for lying about being sick, instead they are out protesting with those revolutionary signs. The "Bullseye" on Governor Walker sign is a realsicko. Teachers, what a bad example you are showing to the children "[/quote]

poor choice... should have had a picture of the bill not Mr. Walker!

enough enough

The District Administrator endorses the massive use of sick leave because it is a part of their contractual rights to call in sick. I actually have empathy for the position those members felt they were in. My concern is that the administrator endorsed the action through the statement. It is no secret that the administrator is not a fan of the BEA. So why does she endorse this action? I would be willing to bet that the position will change when the dust settles. There will be consequences of some sort for those who do not provide documentation. It was an irresponsible thing to say. I wonder if the Board can support the endorsement made by the Administrator and if they will do anything about it.

Walter Scott

Thank You Teachers for having the guts to stand up to walker, it would be so easy to just roll with it and not fight, I applaud your dedication and willingness to keep up the fight! Also, thanks to the students who went down to the square to show their support.

Mike Widner

Many that hate government want to use government to take away liberties. Now that is strange is it not and we supported many regimes for decades that did just that. We would rather have stability with no liberty than noisy people wanting freedom. That is a high price to pay for someone elses peace of mind.

Tari Bergquist

BTW Becky I believe if you check his record, when he was the Milwaukee county executive he actually gave more than I make a year back to the county. Maybe you should do some research and educate yourself.

Tari Bergquist

In the recent past these supposedly caring teachers have spoken of all the low income children and the difficulties that this causes......Were they thinking of this today when these children who receive reduced or free breakfast and lunch at school might be hungry?? Probably not because it's all about them. They don't even care about fellow workers because if these changes aren't made 6000 of their fellow employees will lose their jobs!! They are throwing them to the wolves. And when the students are asked what they are protesting it's "the bill" and many don't know what it is! Nor do they realize it is something that they AND their future children may pay for their whole life!! We need Excellent teachers to be the rule and not the exception!!

Rebecca Leitzinger

Why doesn't Governor Walker take a pay cut, if he is going to make everyone else he should also!

Rebecca Leitzinger

why doesn't Gov. Walker take a pay cut, if he is going to make others!

Paul Campbell

I was a student of BHS and I don't recall learning a great deal about unions. So when I see a comment on here about students not knowing what's going on, I am going to agree. The only way a student would know would be if they have a parent or relative that was part of one. The only reason students left school was to have a day off. Can you actually account for all of those students that left to protest? I bet there were a good number that just left and found a party or something. What the teachers should have done was do there job and stay at school with our kids. Their precious union has reps. Let these reps do your protesting so you as teachers can continue doing there job. If I would have walked off my job like that I would have been fired. It'll be nice to see all of these union members actually working to keep there jobs for a change than hiding behind union loop holes.

Lisa Evans

What have you been doing the last three days?

Me? WORKED - all three days, on time and them some. My employer is counting on ME to show up. Our business had commitments

T Putz

So you're going to have to pay some of your health ins. etc. Welcome to the real world! Check out this site to see what these people are really getting paid. This is a eye opener on the true benefits. Any teacher in WI can be looked at on this site. http://www.postcrescent.com/article/99999999/APC0110/80221166/-1/datamine/Search-Wisconsin-teacher-salaries

Kri Berg

Not only do I support the teachers and students, I support all the other workers who are fighting to hold onto basic labor rights in WI. I am deeply disturbed by the lack of critical thinking on the part of some who blindly accept Scott Walker's attack on workers as
necessary. There are many other ways of making up for a budget shortfall, first and foremost among them being requiring corporations to pay taxes! Why are these organizations given more legal rights than people and then not required to pay at least as much as the regular Joe?

I for one will not support the injustices going on in Wisconsin. I love it and it's a beautiful state, but I am changing my travel plans for this summer. I am boycotting Wisconsin until the governor pulls this attack on worker's rights and I'm urging everyone else to do the same.

j j

Finish: Teachers, what a bad example you are showing to children

j j

All protesting teachers need to be fired for lying about being sick, instead they are out protesting with those revolutionary signs. The "Bullseye" on Governor Walker sign is a real
sicko. Teachers, what a bad example you are showing to the children

Matt Marion

And a big shame on you "Sandra D" for catergorizing our kids as "not knowing anything". If you had a discussion with these students(granted, not all), you would find that they have solid knowledge of what is going on this last week and what this bill represents. Many of these kids aspire to move on to college and pursue careers in teaching and politics, among others, and have a vested interest in how things turn out.


God bless America, Wisconsin, teachers and the students that don't understand what they are protesting. God bless Scott Walker the man with a plan!


God bless Wisconsin, America, and these students and teachers! Recall Scott Walker in January 2012.

Sandra Deich

We will be at the rally to support Walker, its time we show up!! I think it is sad they are using students that can't tell you any thing! Also I guess they want people to lose their jobs, but it might be one of them, you want to walk off your job, thousands of people out of work paying for your benefits on unemployment insurance and working two jobs and trying to put food on the table, shame on all of you!

jane McMahon

This IS democracy in action. I support the teachers of Baraboo 100% as well as the other state workers. I hope Governor Walker comes to his senses before this gets out of hand.

Todd Liebman

God bless our teachers and students! I just want to say thanks to our teachers who work so hard for our kids. And thanks to all our public employees who make sure we have safe water to drink, plow our streets in winter and pick up our trash, serve as nurses and nurses aides for our disabled and elderly and keep our society functioning. Finally, thanks to our young people who had the courage and intellect to be politically involved.

Mike Widner

I'm proud of you students!

Lisa Evans

Rally in Madison for those who support the Budget Repair Bill.
WHEN: Sat. Feb. 19th - Noon to 3PM
WHERE: State Capital South Entrance (corner of Main, S. Caroll

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