Arizona Senate OKs budget with big teacher raise

Arizona Teachers Say They'll Go Back To School If Budget Is Passed
#RedForEd walkout now on teacher-by-teacher basis; all KUSD schools open Thursday
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04 May, 2018

So districts with more mature teachers already making more will get less; districts with lower-paid teachers will have enough to give out more than 19 percent.

Some Arizona school districts will stay closed during a statewide walkout by teachers.

Arizona lawmakers appeared set to pull an all-nighter to pass a $10.4 billion state budget plan that provides more than $300 million for raises for numerous state's striking teachers.

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

Another large school district, Sunnyside Unified School District announced it will remain closed at least through Friday.

Arizona's governor signed a budget bill on Thursday that will boost teachers' wages by 20 percent over the next three years, after dozens of the state's school districts canceled classes as part of a strike to demand pay raises.

Phoenix teacher Rebecca Garelli, and Arizona Educators United member, makes the official announcement from protest organizers that teachers intend to go back to work as the state wide teachers strike enters a fourth day at the Arizona Capitol Tuesday, May 1, 2018, in Phoenix.

"We expect a long day and hope to make progress on the budget", said Matt Specht, spokesman for House Speaker J.D. Mesnard.

Many schools plan to re-open Thursday, and it remains unclear if the developments at the Capitol will change that.

The budget contains some items created to garner support from conservative Republicans, after the governor and GOP leaders bypassed minority Democrats to get the deal done. The Arizona Legislature refused to meet with the teachers, ending its legislatives session early for the week.

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The bill was approved Wednesday afternoon with support only from majority Republicans.

But despite promising to end the strike, teachers have suggested that their fight is not over.

During the news conference Tuesday, Noah Karvelis, one of the leaders of the movement, said the budget does not do enough.

Gladys Garcia said many of her students rely on free or reduced price meals at Challenger Middle School in Tucson and she organized with colleagues to collect food to hand out at a local public library. Other sources of cash include $6 million taken from the state agency that doles out incentives to companies to move to Arizona and $22 million in higher drug rebates for Medicaid patients. The offer set for debate and likely passage by late Wednesday was announced two weeks before teachers walked out last Thursday, and remains substantially unchanged.

Organizers of the strike had called for classes to resume Thursday if the budget passed.

On Tuesday, the ad-hoc group and the Arizona Education Association told teachers to return to work Thursday if the budget is passed.

For the fifth day, the Capitol was a sea of red.

The most obvious is an extra $2 million for "Freedom Schools" at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona that are backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, who support Ducey and are trying to add conservative political and economic schools at universities nationwide. He called that a "high-water mark" for education dollars, saying it does not represent historic funding.

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.

Organizers of the #RedforEd movement said they plan to return to their classrooms on Thursday, providing the budget is approved.


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