Schools in the Maricopa Unified School District could close late next week after teachers voted to approve a statewide walk-out.
Leaders of the #RedForEd movement announced Thursday evening the walk-out is slated to begin April 26 following three consecutive days of walk-in events that week.
Arizona Education Association and Arizona Educators United collation have not placed a limit on how long the walk-out will last.
Educators voted on the matter this week and the results showed they “overwhelmingly support” a walk-out, according to the AEA and AEU.
AEA President Joe Thomas said in a press conference Thursday evening that 78 percent of the 57,000 votes cast supported a strike.
The vote comes after widespread rebuke from the Arizona education community regarding Gov. Doug Ducey’s budget proposal last week which he said would increase teacher salaries by 20 percent – including the one percent raise approved last year.
Arizona Education Association and Arizona Educators United coalition have criticized the proposal as hastily presented and shortsighted.
“This vote was not an easy decision for educators,” AEA Vice President and Isaac Middle School teacher Marisol Garcia said in a news release. “As I turned in my ballot today, I thought about my son, my colleagues, and my students. By voting today, I am standing up for my son and all students in Arizona and the public schools they deserve.”
Educators in the trenches argue the movement is about more than just teacher salary, but also increased compensation for support staff and per-pupil funding among other issues.
Walk-out information was posted to the MUSD website Thursday evening ahead of the highly anticipated announcement by the Arizona Education Association and Arizona Educators United coalition.
Parents will have to utilize alternative child care in the event of a walk-out, according to the document.
“If a walkout occurs, the only way to ensure the safety and well-being of our students is to close our schools. We notified families of the possibility of a walk out and we have asked parents to make a plan for alternate arrangements for their children if a walk out occurs. The district will not have staff to provide any services at the school site. The district could not vet outside resources, so would not be able to make any recommendations for child care options, feeding options, or any services not directly provided by the district.”
Any days MUSD schools are spent in closure will have to be made up at the end of the school year.
Superintendent Tracey Lopeman encouraged parents in a district email to rely on the MUSD internal communication “ConnectEd” to stay informed on possible school closures:
“Dear MUSD parents,
You may be aware that many of our teachers and staff have been participating in statewide efforts to increase awareness for teacher and staff salaries and the need for additional public education funding.
These efforts have included a rally at the State Capitol, social media campaigns and peaceful walk-ins to schools each Wednesday morning. Staff are organizing independently and on their own time. We respect our teachers and staff in their unity efforts and appreciate that they are non-disruptive of the instructional day.
We want to make you aware that there is the potential for teacher walk-outs across Arizona. No decision or date has been set by the organizers, but as a district we are working to determine the impact on school operations. In the event of a work stoppage, we would more than likely close the schools and do everything we can to provide you with advanced notice. We will use our ConnectEd notification system to get information to you. Please make sure that your phone numbers and email address are current in our student information system.
We are fortunate to have a community that consistently supports our schools. We appreciate our dedicated employees who continue to focus on meeting the needs of our students. And we appreciate all of you and your support of our schools while these statewide actions are under way.
Dr. Tracey Lopeman and Superintendent’s Cabinet”