THOUSANDS OF EDUCATORS MARCH IN RALEIGH AND DEMAND RESPECT
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On Wednesday May 16, 2018, the opening day of the legislative session, educators and their supporters from across the state traveled to Raleigh to demand more funding for public education.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials expect to decide by late this week whether to shut down classes May 1, when teachers statewide will travel to Raleigh to lobby state legislators.
More than 1,200 CMS teachers and 100 support staff have asked to take the day off so they can attend the event, Superintendent Clayton Wilcox told the school board Tuesday night.
“At this point it would be very difficult for us to handle those 1,200 vacancies,” Wilcox said. The district has 9,400 certified teachers.
CMS closed for the day for a similar event in May 2018, when 2,000 of its teachers marched in Raleigh. But the district won’t decide whether to do that again this year until Thursday or Friday, Wilcox said.
CMS is coordinating with Wake County, the state’s largest school district, and others in making that decision, he said. Charlotte-Mecklenburg is aware, Wilcox said, that its decision will likely influence other nearby districts. The district also knows that unexpectedly closing schools would force many parents to arrange child care or take a work day off themselves.
“We want to make sure we do this with some thought and some care,” Wilcox told the board.
The number of teachers asking for personal days off May 1 is likely to continue to grow. The number of requests is rising by about 150 a day, Wilcox said. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators has said it hopes to match or exceed last year’s numbers.
North Carolina law lets teachers take personal leave with five days’ notice, as long as a substitute is available and the teacher pays a $50 deduction.
The All Out for Public Education gathering in Raleigh is organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators. NCAE President Mark Jewell said last week that he hopes school systems that expect heavy teacher absences May 1 will switch a work day later in the school calendar so classroom time isn’t lost.
The association says it will demand that legislators: hire more school librarians, social workers, nurses and other health professional to meet national standards; set a $15-an-hour minimum wage for all school staff and a 5 percent raise for non-certified staff, teachers and administrators; expand Medicaid in the state; and reinstate state retiree health benefits and higher pay for advanced degrees that were eliminated by past legislatures.
Wilcox’s proposed budget for next year includes $32.5 million in higher pay for teachers and staff and $21.8 million in a category including enhanced social and emotional support programs. A handful of speakers at a public hearing on the budget Tuesday night generally praised his proposals.
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