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#RedForEd

Average teacher pay at Maricopa Unified School District according to budget numbers. Salaries actually vary widely depending on each teacher's experience and advanced education.

Teacher raises and competitive compensation plans for new employees are included in the proposed budget approved for Maricopa’s public school system Wednesday.

Maricopa Unified School District’s $54 million budget for fiscal year 2018-19 was unanimously approved June 28, but Governing Board Vice President Gary Miller questioned whether the district could realistically maintain those salary increases included in the compensation plans beyond this school year.

Human Resources Director Tom Beckett argued increased enrollment growth projected in the district and commitment from the state Legislature as two funding sources.

Gov. Doug Ducey approved this year funding to Arizona school districts that would allow up to a 10-percent pay increase for teachers after educators held walk-outs in the #RedForEd movement.

Teachers are also slated to receive an additional 10-percent increase by 2020 from the state.

MUSD received more than $1 million from the state this year for teachers, but the board approved raises for administrators, classified staff, transportation and employees in health and related services at a cost to the district of about $2.6 million.

Future funding from the state will have to be approved during annual budget sessions.

“So, what I’m hearing from your prediction is that the Legislature will keep their promise and, between that and our growth projections, then this will be sustainable?” Miller asked.

Beckett said he couldn’t give that assurance but speculated that even if the state backed off from its commitment to continuously increase teacher pay, funding from the district’s swelling enrollment would likely cover the loss.

Administrative and classified employee raises this year are covered almost entirely by enrollment dollars alone, Beckett said.

Beckett predicted the new compensation plans for future employees will attract and retain teachers.

Under the proposed 2019 budget, the average salary of all teachers will be $47,748 – an increase of more than $4,000 from last year’s average.

“I think this will position us, at least for the next few years, to go to places like California, the Midwest, and be able to present a real salary that is going to be attractive to our people, especially to our teachers,” Beckett told the Board.

The budget also allows for the purchase of one regular route school bus and a special education route bus.

A public hearing will be held during the Board’s next meeting July 11 before the final budget is approved and forwarded to the Arizona Department of Education.

Superintendent Tracey Lopeman. Photo by Michelle Chance

Tracey Lopeman officially becomes the superintendent of Maricopa Unified School District July 1. Lopeman is currently under contract as a consultant and de facto interim superintendent after the early departure of Steve Chestnut. She spoke with InMaricopa’s Michelle Chance about the future of the district.

TRACEY LOPEMAN
Hometown: Henderson, Nevada
Residence: Phoenix
Plans to move to Maricopa: Not right now
Commute: I enjoy it. It’s a nice drive, and it allows me some time to think about work and get ready for the day.
Family: I have a fiancée, Tony Johnson. The rest of my family still lives in Henderson. I have a brother and sister and my nephews.
Pets: Two rescue dogs, Chico and Howard.
Education: I went to Northern Arizona University for my bachelor’s degree and I got my master’s and my doctorate at Arizona State University.
Hobbies: We go to ASU football games. I enjoy sports, cooking, home design, yard work, time with family and friends and entertaining.
Little known fact: I’m an excellent tap dancer. I’ve been doing it since I was 5.

What are some tangible goals you have for MUSD?
Some tangible goals have to do with student achievement: Improving the numbers of students who are proficient and highly proficient on the Az Merit. Teacher retention and, of course, that’s directly related to student achievement. We can track teacher retention. I also have a goal for safety and service. Things that we can associate with safety and service would be transportation services and behavior management on the campuses and making sure the environment is orderly and calm and we can track those as well.

What are some challenges at MUSD you hope to overcome?
One of the challenges is the teacher turnover. We want to make sure that we are not having to start over every year with high numbers of staff. So, if we can impact teacher retention, we are going to do that.

What are your specific strategies to keep teachers?
We want to get as much of that money (from new state budget) into the classroom as possible. We think we have a really good approach to that, a really good plan. It’s not approved by our board yet, but I think that it will be well received by our staff. We want to have a competitive package, and we believe the increase that we’ve received from the Legislature is going to help with that.

How do you define a teacher?
Obviously, there [are] three separate definitions the Legislature has included. For our purposes, we want to use the most broad definition as possible so that we can make sure as many teachers as possible have their raise.

Will that definition be shared in a future board meeting?
Absolutely it will. This is all a part of the package that we are continuing to craft and I’d love to give you the scoop, but I’ve got four board members that don’t know the details yet because we are really still crafting them.

With the new budget, there’s an increase to the base formula that calculates teacher pay. Can you share how that would apply to MUSD’s “unique student characteristics” you mentioned at a previous board meeting?
Those are the different weights that are applied to students when it comes to our enrollment. Whether it’s a typical student or a special needs student, there’s a formula that is influenced by those characteristics.

And every district is going to have to figure out what those are individually?
Yes, and we will share those at a future meeting.

Are there any plans in the budget to boost classified employee pay?
Yes. We believe that every employee impacts students. Every one of us is here to serve students in one form or another, and we also know that we want to be competitive across all employee groups. We want to make sure that we validate what every employee brings to the education of every MUSD student. We believe that reflects the intent of the #RedForEd movement. It was to support all employee groups – certified and classified. http://www.inmaricopa.com/musd-approves-10-teacher-raise/

The #RedForEd movement began soon after you were hired. How did that make you feel?
It was like, ‘Wait a minute, I just got here and everybody’s leaving?’ I feel like we had a front-row seat to something historic in Arizona. It is a familiar message that our state needed to properly fund public education. That’s not new, but the method was completely new.
It was exciting to have a front-row seat for that. It’s unfortunate we lost six days (of school). I certainly did not want to see that happen, but we were linking arms as a leadership team. I think districts across the state linked arms to figure out how we could best respond to this unprecedented movement. It was an awesome learning experience that I couldn’t have ever have imagined.

What are your duties at your current post at Alhambra Elementary School District?
I am an assistant superintendent for strategic planning, implementation and accountability. Right now, I am at the point of closing out the strategic plan in the Alhambra School District. I’m working with departments and bringing that to closure. I’m spending about three days a week in Maricopa because I have that support from my current superintendent in Alhambra.

How did you spend your tenure at Alhambra?
I was a teacher, then an assistant principal, then a school principal for 13 years. Then I worked at the district office as an assistant superintendent on the strategic plan. It’s hard to believe that was 28 years.

What do you bring to the table that’s different from what MUSD has had, this being your first post as superintendent?
I think I bring a knowledge base and an experience base that will capitalize on what (former Superintendent Steve) Chestnut brought with the vision and strategic plan that he established here. There’s a great foundation for strategic thinking and accountability already. So, I think I bring that mindset to the organization and, also, I bring an external focus that will assist with the marketing of our district. I have my experience through my roles at district office in that, so I can bring those connections and relationships to this district.
I have experience that picks up the torch without much delay and builds on the foundation that (Chestnut) established here. I’m really quite lucky because there’ so many great things going on in every one of the schools and there [are] already some pretty powerful relationships with different communities in and out of town, so I’m ready to, without missing a beat, continue what we have established.

A lot of teachers have complained about poor communication between school sites and the district office and have expressed a desire to see their superintendent present on campuses. What’s your philosophy?
One of the experiences that I’ve had as the assistant superintendent was facilitating the superintendent’s advisory councils for the last two years. I am familiar with and have seen the benefit of the experience of having a certified advisory council, a classified advisory council, a student advisory council, a parent advisory council.
Those are opportunities to interact directly with those different groups to listen and hear about concerns, but also get feedback on the direction and accomplishments related to our strategic plan. I know that I have different avenues already established to create those channels for deliberate, planned, routine feedback, conversation and relationship building.

That’s something you’d start at MUSD?
For sure. That will be happening at every site when we are back in the fall.

MUSD board members have discussed building new schools. How do you plan to accommodate this growth?
Growth is a great problem to have. We see it as an opportunity. We are going to engage the community, the staff, and we’re also going to engage the experts. We make sure the decisions we make are sustainable. Talk about an intense conversation with lots of details, that’s a very long-term conversation that will be inclusive and transparent.


A portion of this interview appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

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Sen. Steve Smith

By State Sen. Steve Smith

With Arizona’s 2018-2019 state budget now signed by the Governor, I wanted to clearly explain how the 20-percent teacher pay raise was determined, how it will be provided to schools, who will be receiving raises and how much should educators expect – as there has been a great deal of misinformation about how this actually works.

First and foremost, the question that is often asked is “What is the definition of a teacher?” Who will be receiving these raises?

To answer that question, the Legislature does not define who a teacher is; each local school district governing board makes that determination. We simply used what each district reports to the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) for “Year End Teacher Full Time Equivalents (FTE)” to help us determine how much money would be needed to generate a 20-percent raise by 2020. How we provided the funding maintains Arizona’s long-standing emphasis on local control by allowing local districts flexibility in determining who will receive raises.

So how does the 20-percent pay raise work?

Arizona’s Auditor General (the independent source of impartial information concerning state and local government agencies) recently reported the statewide average district teacher salary is $48,372. That is an independent, non-partisan number, and while some district teachers earn more and others less, that is the true average salary of district teachers in Arizona.

To determine the 20 percent by 2020 teacher pay raise, we started by determining the amount needed for a 1-percent teacher pay raise based on the actual reported cost of the 1-percent raise we passed last year. Since we typically experience inflation each year and expect to have more teachers in Arizona classrooms each of the next three years, a 1-percent raise in 2020 would be a bit higher and cost more than a 1-percent raise this year. To make sure we provided enough funding for this growth, we took the average over the next three fiscal years, added in funding for employment-related expenses like health and dental benefits, and determined the amount necessary for a 1-percent teacher pay increase to be $32.25 million.

Since we promised a 20-percent raise by 2020, we multiplied that 1-percent by 20, resulting in $645 million. The plan spreads the pay increase over three fiscal years (10 percent up front this year, 5 percent in 2019 and 5 percent in 2020), resulting in $305 million this year, $470 million added on top of that the next year, and then up to the total $645 million in 2020.

That means over the next three fiscal years we will cumulatively be providing $1.42 billion in new state funding for teacher salary increases. In other words, this funding provides the amount necessary to bring the statewide average of district teacher salaries up to $58,046 by 2020, or $9,674 above the 2017 level of $48,372 – a 20-percent raise by 2020 just as promised.

Furthermore, since the calculations for the 20-percent raise by 2020 are based on the statewide average, the funding provided for teacher pay raises through the state budget will actually provide the largest percentage increase to those teachers who earn a salary below the statewide average and are in need of a pay raise the most.

Some have falsely claimed this funding package is not a permanent pay raise and the money could be reduced in future years. This is completely untrue. The new money for teacher pay included in the state budget was included in the statutory “Base Level” amount of our state K-12 funding formula. Thanks to Proposition 301, the Base Level amount is inflated each year and cannot be reduced by a future legislature, only by a vote of the people. That is why we specifically allocated the new teacher pay raise dollars through this voter-protected portion of the formula – to guarantee our teachers that this money is permanent, ongoing and inflated.

So, who will be receiving these new dollars? The state Legislature does not attach red tape to our K-12 funding. Local school districts determine how general K-12 formula dollars are spent. The same goes for the new $1.42 billion districts will receive over the next three years for teacher pay raises. Schools will receive their portion of the new funding based on their weighted student count, and each local district will be responsible for determining how to allocate the pay raises to teachers.

So, if a teacher does not receive their portion of the money appropriated for teacher pay raises this year, that would be due to a decision by their local district board, not the state legislature. To make sure districts are held accountable, we included strong intent language directing the $1.42 billion to be used for teacher pay increases, and required schools to post their average teacher salaries, and the amount of year-over-year increases on their websites. Therefore, be sure your voices are heard in your local districts to ensure teachers receive the pay increases they deserve.

Finally, some will contend that while the 20-percent raise is great for teachers, schools have other needs like building repairs, upgraded school buses, raises for non-teacher employees, etc. We agree. So, in addition to all new funding for teacher pay raises, we also allocated $503.4 million cumulatively by 2020 ($100 million this year, $167.8M in 2019 and $235.6 million in 2020) in additional assistance funding that schools may spend to address these needs. That means new monies provided to our schools for teacher pay raises and additional assistance will total over $2 billion by 2020.

That just covers the major new spending provided in this newly passed state budget. Schools will continue to receive base annual inflation funding, Proposition 123 monies, local bond and override dollars and capital funding provided through the School Facilities Board.

These are the legitimate facts regarding K-12 funding in the budget just passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Gov. Ducey. It dedicates 48 percent of the entire state general fund budget to K-12 education, clearly signifying that our students, teachers and schools are the most important asset in the state.

If you have any further questions about the budget, please contact me directly at 602-926-5685 or at stsmith@asleg.gov.

State Sen. Steve Smith is a resident of Maricopa.

Incoming MUSD Superintendent Tracey Lopeman (right) shares a laugh with Board President AnnaMarie Knorr before Wednesday's meeting. It was Lopeman's first time on the dais. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

 

By law, 180 days of instruction are required in the Maricopa Unified School District.

After a staff walkout, the district worked to accommodate six days out of school without extending the school year. Wednesday, the governing board approved the temporary suspension of the state-mandated policy.

Instead, it adopted a plan that would fit the equivalent minutes of instruction into 174 days, as allowed by law.

Board member Patti Coutré asked Human Resources Director Tom Beckett whether there was a plan to change the policy outright, apparently to allow the district to use equivalent minutes in the future without having to suspend policy.

“We are planning, on the May 30 agenda, to bring back a policy revision on this so that we don’t once again run into this situation,” Beckett said.

Beckett’s note to the board indicated the district will have “an equivalent number of minutes of instruction to equal 180 days of instruction without including the minutes/hours lost” during the closure.

The MUSD schools were closed as several faculty members participated in #RedForEd demonstrations at the capitol seeking an improved state education budget.

The board also voted to adjust the current school calendar to show the lost instructional days from April 26 through May 3. They also adopted the revised work schedule for certified and classified employees, “to ensure that classified employees are available to provide support services for the remainder of the school year and/or to provide classified employees the opportunity to make up lost work time due to school closures.”

As originally scheduled, the last day of classes for MUSD schools in May 25. High school graduation is May 24.

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Roger Wagner

By Roger Wagner II

Representative Finchem, Representative Leach, and Senator Smith,

Thank you for representing Maricopa’s local education agencies in the 53rd Legislature. We appreciate the work you have done to improve education funding for your constituents and our stakeholders. Our staff will appreciate the greatly needed raises as we try to appropriately pay our staff and close the $3,000 gap between us and the state average salary. Our students can definitely use the support of the new funding that will fill some of the holes operating at $2,300 per student less than the state average makes.

We see the attempts at progress, we thank you for them, and we will ensure that these funds are used judiciously and with transparency. Our community will be incredibly appreciative of the continued investment in education. They have seen our classrooms that are 10.4 percent more full than the state average, so they continue to invest their time and resources into us.

We have an open invitation to come to your workplace. And believe us, Maricopa did. Around half of the instructional staff of MUSD, along with our colleagues from Leading Edge Academy, Legacy Traditional Schools and Sequoia Pathway, stepped foot on the Lawn. Every single minute of every single committee had a Maricopa educator present or watching. We were even privileged enough to have some of our own speak or meet with Legislators. This most certainly constitutes the largest engagement of educators in Maricopa, in the history of Arizona, and, by some measures, the United States. We are a proud people and we now have a unity that did not exist before.

In the spirit of committed educators, we assessed and we have some feedback we would like to share. This is our Preposition Proposition.

We have learned that some of the most important words in education are the smallest ones. Those words are to, for and with. Each word deals with intent and purpose. Each is unique and can help determine a path forward or provide understanding.

ToTo is a unidirectional word. When you do something to someone, your purpose or intent is solely your own. To is a one-way street. To is what happens without consent. To is solitary, but might impact others.

For – For is also a unidirectional word, but for pretends a little bit. For is to wearing a mask. For is to where sometimes the other direction is considered and sometimes it isn’t. Think of a two-way street, isn’t it really just two one-way streets until someone needs to cross? Or worse, until someone gets out of their lane?

WithWith is not a unidirectional word. With is what it is like driving in a roundabout. Everybody enters, flows together, and exits when they need to. Preference doesn’t matter in with and direction changes are made with an understanding that they may impact others.

Throughout this week, especially last night and early this morning, we saw Legislators turn around during sessions to say to us, “We heard you and we worked with you to get this.” Some of them added, “It is something, but it is not enough.” While others said, “We are content here.” These Representatives and Senators met with us, talked with us and developed plans with us. We stood with them, regardless of their affiliation.

Then, as if a switch was flipped on Wednesday night, we started to hear things during roll call votes like “We made changes for you,” giving chunks of funds with no designation is “For your best interest.” And the one that really stung, “You should be thanking us. We did this for you.” These Representatives and Senators often did not meet with us, talk with us, or develop plans with us. We turned our backs to them, regardless of their affiliation.

We felt it necessary to solidify our stance regarding politics in response to Sen. Smith’s commentary on partisanship amongst educators. Maricopa #REDforED/Maricopa Arizona Educators United is a non-partisan group. It was formed with that intent, developed initiatives with that intent, and will move forward with the purpose of advocating for education in Maricopa. Our constituency includes all education workers, community members and stakeholders who would like to be involved.

With all of this being said, we would like to extend an open invitation to our classrooms. Come see us work with students. Come see our spaces, places and faces. We look forward to it.


Roger Wagner II is a music instructor at Maricopa Unified School Distirct and a member of Maricopa #REDforED/Maricopa Arizona Educators United.

 

Maricopa Unified School District Administrative Office

After a false alarm Wednesday, the Maricopa Unified School District announced Thursday it would reopen at the end of the week.

All nine of MUSD’s school sites will resume classes May 4, according to a district statement.

“We are excited to begin the teaching and learning process again with our wonderful students,” the statement read.

Like the announcement May 2, Thursday’s statement confirmed students and staff will not need to attend additional school days to makeup for the week-long absence due to the teacher walkout.

The last day of school is May 25.


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Maricopa Unified School District board members Joshua Judd, Patti Coutre, AnnaMarie Knorr and Torri Anderson approved a resolution supporting teachers' campaign for better funding in April.

 

As if putting a stamp on an energetic evening featuring scores of #RedForEd T-shirts, the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board expressed their support as the teaching staff prepared to join a statewide walkout to change education funding.

MUSD school closed Thursday and remain closed Friday.

Though not specifically expressing support of the work stoppage, the board cited “chronic underfunding” in approving a “Resolution Supporting Educators.”

“[W]e support our school employees as they make their demands known for legislative action to secure the necessary funding for meaningful pay raises and education funding,” the resolution states.

Before the meeting, teachers from MUSD and other local schools gathered at Copper Sky for a rally. They then created “thank you” cards to individuals and organizations that have expressed support.

Two of the four board members present at Wednesday’s regular meeting also wore red.

High school teacher Aidan Balt thanked the board for supporting teachers and student. Then she specifically thanking incoming superintendent Tracey Lopeman and the cabinet for communicating the walkout situation quickly to all families in English and Spanish.

“I’ve never been more proud to be a teacher and I’ve been more proud to work for MUSD,” she said.

Technology Integration Specialist Christine Dickinson thanked the classified staff of MUSD for their support, calling all of them educators.

“All together we have to do this as a united team,” she said. “This is not about teacher pay. If it was about teacher pay, this would have been resolved. This is about educators united, not teachers, educators. Together as a team we are educators.”

April 12, Gov. Doug Ducey proposed a 20-percent teacher pay raise by the fall of 2020, but state teachers voted to walkout instead, saying it did not do enough for support staff or per-pupil funding.

Supporting Ducey’s plan, Senate President Steve Yarbrough said the teachers were victimizing the students.

“While the schools close, the Legislature remains open, with leaders attempting to complete their task to bring the teachers significantly better pay,” Yarbrough said in a prepared statement. “We hear their frustration. Our hope is that the teachers who choose to walk out on their children will return to their classrooms, so that students can learn and complete their school year.”

Maricopa teachers were among those marching at the capitol Thursday morning, the first day of a walkout. Photo courtesy Jennifer Miller

Maricopa educators rallied afterschool Wednesday on the eve of the statewide teacher walkout.

The demonstration at Copper Sky Recreation Center April 25 included a march around the lake and speeches by various community members.

The activism driven by the #RedForEd movement has permeated the state, driving teachers and school staff into action.

Educators dismissed Gov. Doug Ducey’s salary proposal last week and are demanding increased funding for school children and competitive pay for support staff.

And although teachers were in high spirits and proud of their efforts Wednesday, a subtle unease crept in.

“I’m really proud that after all these years teachers are finally getting together and standing up for everything,” said Maricopa High School art teacher Maria Pour.

“I’m anxious because I know what the kids are going through. I’m anxious because I know the sacrifice that the teachers are making. I’m anxious because I just want a quick resolution and the very least time away from my kids and my classroom,” Pour added.

The walkout closed schools Thursday, and classrooms will remain empty Friday. The length of the walkout is unknown.

Pour said she believes her colleagues would endure a prolonged strike.

Maricopa teachers rallied at Copper Sky Wednesday evening. Photo by Michelle Chance

“I think it would be the overwhelming majority that would be for keeping the walkout,” she said.

Amalia Clark, owner of the Our Children Matter organization, attended the event with boxed food packs for children affected by the walkout.

The Maricopa Unified School District announced it would feed students while its nine schools are closed, but Clark said her agency would step in for those who need additional help.

“I think that a lot of people use the school system not only for learning, but they also use it for nutrition, and now that it’s closed down, they’re realizing there is a big importance to our school system,” Clark said.

Educators awoke Thursday morning and commuted to downtown Phoenix instead of their school sites.

They marched in a statewide demonstration to the Arizona capitol building alongside thousands of others.

Maricopa High School Teacher Jennifer Miller said the experience was “incredibly positive.”

“Teachers from all over the state are talking to each other and encouraging each other – even teachers from rival schools are here in solidarity,” Miller said. “I’ve never seen a group of educators this unified for a cause.”


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At least two charter schools in Maricopa will be closed Thursday for a planned #RedForEd teacher walkout.

Sequoia Pathway Academy Campus Director Alfonso F. Alva said Monday the school will be closed Thursday and Friday. That makes SPA one of eight EdKey schools planning to close for the walkout. The Maricopa campus was already scheduled to be closed Friday.

Late Tuesday, Leading Edge Academy told parents the school would close Thursday and Friday, a decision based on the number of teachers and staff indicating they would not be at school. Legacy Traditional School, another large charter, is currently slated to be open.

Statewide, educators have called for a work stoppage to bring awareness to the issues of teacher pay and education funding in Arizona. In a rejection of Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposal for what is being described as a 20-percent raise by 2020, a majority of teachers voted last week to walkout April 26.

The effort is being organized by Arizona Education Association, Arizona Educators United and other teachers. The duration of the walkout has not been determined.

Neighboring districts in Stanfield and Mobile both intend to stay open. Monday, Stanfield Superintendent Melissa Sadorf posted an announcement to parents explaining a full schedule Thursday and early release Friday.

During those two days, she said, “some teachers will not be at work and on those days we may be short-staffed.”


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mhs-walk-in6-_-chance-_-04112018

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.

Sincerely,

Dr. Tracey Lopeman and Superintendent’s Cabinet”


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A sea of red may be visible at local campuses tomorrow morning as parents drop their children off in the Maricopa Unified School District.

Teachers at seven campuses will participate in #RedForEd demonstrations before school begins. At contract time, teachers will walk through the front doors together.

Most demonstrations are scheduled to last 30 minutes.

The movement is led by Arizona Educators United and teachers around the state will be participating. Read their demands here.

Organizers said community members, parents and students can participate.

MUSD School Walk-ins:

  • Butterfield Elementary: 7 a.m.
  • Maricopa Elementary: 7:05 a.m.
  • Saddleback Elementary: 7:10 a.m.
  • Santa Rosa Elementary: 7:30 a.m.
  • Pima Butte Elementary: 7:30 a.m.
  • Maricopa Wells Middle School: 8 a.m.
  • Maricopa High School: 6:30 a.m.
  • Desert Wind Middle School

Teachers are upping the ante in a statewide campaign to increase pay and improve education for their students.

“Walk-ins” are slated to occur at schools in the Maricopa Unified School District April 11.

Teachers will meet in front of campus 30 minutes before they’re contracted to begin the day. (Read below to see the times at each school). Some will carry signs, and most will be wearing red. All will walk into the school together before school begins.

The #RedForEd movement began in early March in Arizona. Teachers wore red to school as a show of solidarity.

But now Arizona Educators United (AEU) — the coalition of teachers, administrators and support staff who support the movement – are strategizing ways to force the hand of legislators, and most importantly, their governor.

“(Gov. Doug) Ducey needs to do something,” said one MUSD teacher April 5.

A group of around 25 crimson-clad teachers met inside a classroom after school at Santa Rosa Elementary this week to schedule the walk-ins, discuss goals and, at times, voice their frustrations.

Arizona public school teachers are among the lowest-paid in the nation and all eyes are on other states, like West Virginia and Oklahoma, who have protested their own working conditions and low wages with some success.

Teachers in some schools in the Valley walked out for one day last month, but Arizona educators teach in a right-to-work state, and many realize the risk a strike could bring them.

“It will take unity like you’ve never seen before,” warned MUSD Volunteer Coordinator Jim Irving. “You’re fooling yourself if you think some can (strike) and some can’t.”

Some local teachers said they’d be on board and viewed walk-ins as a way for the AEU to measure the movement’s manpower in case demands aren’t met.

AEU demands:

  • 20 percent salary increase for teachers to create competitive pay with neighboring states
  • Competitive pay for all education support professionals
  • Permanent teacher salary structure which includes annual raises
  • Restore education funding to 2008 levels
  • No new tax cuts until per-pupil funding reaches the national average

AEU encourages parents, community members and students to support teachers April 11.

However, AEU advises teachers against speaking to the community during school hours about the event. Teachers also cannot communicate details about the walk-in via their district email.

Representation from each MUSD school site was not present at the walk-in meeting this week, so the April 11 events cannot currently be confirmed at every school.

If you are a parent or community member, please contact your school administration to confirm whether your child’s campus is participating.

Maricopa High School and Maricopa Wells Middle School are confirmed to be participating so far.

MUSD School Walk-ins:

  • Butterfield Elementary: 7 a.m.
  • Maricopa Elementary: 7:05 a.m.
  • Saddleback Elementary: 7:10 a.m.
  • Santa Rosa Elementary: 7:30 a.m.
  • Pima Butte Elementary: 7:30 a.m.
  • Maricopa Wells Middle School: 8 a.m.
  • Maricopa High School: 6:30 a.m

Representatives from Santa Cruz Elementary and Desert Wind Middle School have not indicated whether they will participate.