60 percent of SUSD’s teaching staff participate in workplace strike

Peopled dressed in the color red filled downtown Phoenix during the first Red for Ed walkout Thursday, April 26, in downtown Phoenix. (photo by Haley Vago)

More than 900 Scottsdale Unified School District teachers are participating in the current walk-out, which supporters contend is the result of lackluster classroom funding spanning more than a decade.

An outline of certified teachers who reported an absence for May 1 shows that 916 of 1,365 teachers across SUSD’s 29 schools are participating in the walkout.

One school reported 100 percent participation, Hohokam Elementary School, while Tonalea K-8 had all but one teacher call-out.

Only five schools had less than 50 percent of its certified teachers report an absence, with the other 24 schools seeing at least half of its teaching staff support the movement.

The Scottsdale Unified School District Communications Department has been updating parents daily on the status of school reconvening. No date to re-open schools has been set.

The Governing Board discussed the school closures during a Monday, April 30, special meeting where it was reported Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane contacted the school district politely requesting teachers return to work.

While schools are closed teachers are still being paid, district officials say, and the teachers will be expected to potentially make up classroom days at the end of the year even if their 186-day contract is over.

Arizona Education Association officials cited 50,000 participants were at the Arizona State Capitol on day three of the walk-out, Monday, April 30.

“Educators’ hearts are heavy because they would rather be with their students in their schools and classrooms,” a press release stated.

“They jammed the phone lines and met with lawmakers but made no progress on Monday. As a result of the legislative inaction, the Arizona Education Association and Arizona Educators United today announced plays for day 4 of the #RedForEd walkout.”

Two days prior to the start of the walkout, the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board issued a letter of support, thanking teachers for raising awareness in a manner that is constructive, professional and respectful.

“We believe you will continue to put the educational, emotional and physical needs of our students first, and we are grateful for the patience and understanding of our community as we navigate this unprecedented challenge,” the letter signed by district leaders state.

“Our district honors and respects the tireless work of our educators and we urge the (Arizona) Legislature to increase funding to support their efforts, so we may better serve Arizona’s children.”

A screen shot on Monday, April 30, shows results of a parent survey. (submitted photo)

A parent-conducted survey sent to local media outlets by Cheyenne Traditional School parent and Respect Our Scottsdale Schools fan page editor, Mike Norton, reportedly shows more than 60 percent of parents will keep their child out of school during the walkout.

“The community resoundingly supports keeping schools closed until meaningful legislation is enacted including its signing into law by Governor Ducey,” Mr. Norton said in his email to the Independent.

“Over 89 percent of teachers answered that they would not return to work. Over 90 percent of parents said they would keep their children home. The teachers who answered the survey represent more than 35 percent of all SUSD certified staff, a statistically meaningful database.”

Mr. Norton says that more than 1,160 respondents have answered one or more questions on the survey.

Amid the Red for Ed movement, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced Thursday, April 12 he will increase teacher salaries 20 percent by the end of the 2020 school year.

The governor’s office said in a press release the initiative is part of Mr. Ducey’s plan to “fully restore recession-era cuts over the next five years — all without raising taxes while maintaining Arizona’s balanced budget.”

The governor’s play starts with a 9 percent pay increase for fiscal year 2019, coupled with a 1 percent increase for fiscal year 2018. Over the next two years, the rest of the 20 percent will be reached by the 2020 school year, a release states.

Furthermore, the plan adds to Mr. Ducey’s proposal to invest $371 million in District Additional Assistance and Charter Additional Assistance to be added-in over the next five years.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be e-mailed at mfittro@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/melissafittro.

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