Published: Thu, May 03, 2018
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Arizona teachers to end strike if plan passes

Arizona teachers to end strike if plan passes

"A month ago, (Gov. Doug Ducey) was ignoring our voices", Red for Ed movement organizer Noah Karvelis said Tuesday. Other proposals would add more guidance counselors and spell out that support staff, left out of the teacher raise, would be entitled to a 10 percent pay hike.

That, in turn, put the issue directly in the hands of school officials to decide, based on feedback from their staff, whether they thought there would be enough showing up to schedule classes or open the buildings.

Arizona Educators United organizers Dylan Wegela and Rebecca Garelli told members on a Facebook Live video Wednesday afternoon that they need to keep the pressure on lawmakers. Teachers announced if the deal was passed and signed by Ducey, they would return to classes May 3. The group had said they would call off the almost week-old strike if the budget passed.

Gabriel Trujillo, superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District, the second-largest in the state, said he doesn't support the walkout because it takes teachers out of classrooms.

Teachers have demanded states reverse constraints on salary and funding that were imposed when tax revenues ran short during the US recession that ended in 2009. He said he does support the objectives of the so-called #RedforEd movement, with his schools facing a host of funding needs.

Thousands of striking Arizona teachers are marching around the state Capitol complex as they await debate on a state budget that gives them big raises but falls short of meeting other demands.

Wednesday marked the fifth day of the strike that has led to schools closures affecting the majority of the state's 1.1 million school children. They cheered and jeered inside the legislative chambers where lawmakers were in the early stages of debating a Republican-backed $10.4 billion spending plan.

The Republican-controlled Legislature was considering a state budget that promises the first installment of a 20 percent pay increase by 2020 and a partial restoration of cuts to education funding, but many teachers said if the lawmakers failed to act Wednesday, they would not go back to work.

"We know that it has always been that we wanted to pass the budget today so we can give teachers the opportunity to spend time with their kids in school", said state Rep. Reginald Bolding, D-Phoenix.

For his part, Farley has attacked the Republican governor for his education positions. School funding has not increased in the state since cuts were made during the Great Recession.

Teachers walked out last week hoping they could demand more funding from Gov. Doug Ducey and Republican lawmakers.

Leaders with AEU and the state's teacher union, the Arizona Education Association, said Tuesday they were ready to accept the budget and head back to school - even if they were not particularly satisfied with it.

Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said there were some last minute tweaks to the spending plan that has already been approved by the Appropriations Committee that he chairs. Some districts are expected to stay closed Wednesday.

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