losangelesnewstoday.com
losangelesnewstoday.com May 20, 2018


Arizona teachers call funding offer low, yet say deal can end walkout

04 May 2018, 12:01 | Dawn Berry

Arizona Teachers Say They'll Go Back To School If Budget Is Passed

Arizona teachers vow they 'will be back at the Capitol' as walkout continues

When many teachers began to call in absences for Thursday, some districts had to close.

Dozens of teachers from all of Cottonwood's schools traveled to Phoenix on Thursday to join the rally, while those who stayed staged a march from Verde Valley Medical Center to Old Town.

Members of the Red for Ed movement said they will return to class Thursday if state legislators pass the budget.

They're also pushing lawmakers for other considerations such as a 10 percent raise for support staff.

The Scottsdale Unified School District in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale announced less than an hour later that its schools will reopen Friday.

The proposal also forces $18 million in increases to local property taxes, mainly in Tucson and Phoenix, by cutting payments counties use to backfill high property taxes prompted by school desegregation agreements.

Some districts re-opened this week after determining they had enough staff to provide a safe learning environment.

Arizona lawmakers pulled an all-nighter Thursday to enact a budget that provides big raises for numerous state's striking teachers, potentially ending the five-day walkout that kept more than a million public school students out of the classroom.

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"We don't have any idea when the Legislature will be done", Curtis Aylward, a college algebra teacher at Peoria and one of the school's AEU site liaisons, said. "We'll make some final tweaks to this and all of the rest of the budget bills, as we hone in on a final product". It falls short of meeting teachers' demands for classroom resources. The Republican Governors Association is already running ads touting Ducey as providing major new school funding "without raising taxes". That was based on the belief that the spending plan - and the money for a promised pay hike - was pretty much locked in and would be enacted and on its way the governor's desk by the end of the day Wednesday. Randall Friese read Noah Karvelis' remarks where he praised striking teachers for getting big wins in the budget.

"While this bill moves the needle, it still does not go far enough", AEA President Joe Thomas said in the statement. But a daylong delay led them to essentially extend it, and many school districts ended up canceling classes for a sixth straight day Thursday.

"I commend you for being here", Farnsworth said.

The Senate was expected to begin floor debate on the budget at 8 p.m., and the House expected similar timing. The Arizona Legislature is expected to vote on a budget today, which organizers say will now include additional funding for education.

Red-clad teachers in the #RedforEd movement gathered Wednesday on the mall between the House and Senate buildings a day before their historic walkout for education funding is set to end. Now, the movement will pivot to longer-term efforts, like a ballot initiative to create an increased funding stream and electing lawmakers who support public education funding. In addition to the many supporting their cause, others expressed anger at the teachers for going on strike.

When the plan started moving through the legislature, they said they'd go back to school and figure out new ways to keep the momentum going.

Of the 1.1 million public school students in the state, more than 850,000 students were affected on the first day of the strike, with more than 768,000 still out of school as of Tuesday.

Sandy Morse, a high school history teacher, said they're disappointed with the outcome, but that this has galvanized teachers.



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