Teachers, administrators and school support staff across the state are planning to strike tomorrow. KNAU’s Justin Regan reports, they’re demanding increased school funding as well as higher pay.
Nearly 80 percent of teachers who took part in a statewide walkout vote last week chose to strike. They rejected Republican Governor Doug Ducey’s plan for a 20 percent pay increase by 2020. Many teachers say the proposal doesn’t include raises for support staff or a boost in general school funding which is still below pre-recession levels.
"As a teacher you don’t get into teaching for the money," says Kim Helwig, third grade teacher at Sechrist Elementary in Flagstaff. "You’re in it for the kids and what’s best for your community. We’re not accepting this. And it’s not because we don’t appreciate the raise, it’s because you haven’t addressed any of our other colleagues and the students themselves."
Ducey is pushing his plan to lawmakers, but many Democrats and Republicans are concerned about its funding sources. An analysis by the Arizona Republic shows more than 840,000 students would be affected by a walkout. More than a hundred school districts and charter schools in the state will close, including the Flagstaff, Winslow, and Page Unified School Districts.