PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona teachers’ walkout over pay and education funding appears headed into a second week as major school districts say schools will remain closed Monday.
The unprecedented statewide job action began Thursday and continued Friday, resulting in closures of schools that educate the vast majority of the state’s 1.1 million public school students.
Recent teacher protests in Arizona and Colorado have followed similar job actions in West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma.
Arizona districts whose websites on Saturday displayed notices saying schools will be closed include several in Phoenix and its suburbs and others in cities across the state, including Tucson, Flagstaff and Sierra Vista.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and GOP legislative leaders said Friday they had reached a budget agreement to boost teacher pay by 20 percent by 2020.
“This plan benefits our children’s education across the state, and we are working through the weekend to introduce a budget early next week and pass it shortly thereafter,” Ducey said in the statement with Senate President Steve Yarbrough and Speaker J.D. Mesnard.
Leaders of teacher groups said Saturday the announced agreement at this point is only a press release and that their other concerns remain unaddressed.
“We have no bill. We have no deal. The devil is in the details,” Joe Thomas, Arizona Education Association president and Noah Karvelis, Arizona Educators United organizer, said in a joint statement.
Walkout organizers from the start haven’t said how long it would last, and some parents knew of the possibility of demonstrations continuing.
Physician’s assistant Brooke Morrow, 37, was able to take time off from work Thursday and took her 9-year-old daughter to an indoor trampoline park in Phoenix. But things would get trickier if schools remained closed Monday, she said.
“My husband will have to find some flexibility. We’ll use grandma. We’ll use neighbors,” Morrow said.
The Sierra Vista Unified School District in southeastern Arizona said its schools “will reopen when administration can verify we have sufficient supervision in our schools for safe operations, or when the state walkout has been concluded.”
“We realize our closures are causing inconveniences for our parents and community. We thank you for your patience as we work through this time,” the district’s notice added.
Scottsdale Unified in suburban Phoenix said its schools would remain closed Monday but reopen Tuesday. Teachers not planning to return Tuesday will need to use leave time.
“This is an historic moment in Arizona and we will continue to support educators who have united to demand better for our children. We are hearing from teachers and other staff who wish to return to work and from families who are anxious to know when students can return to school,” acting Superintendent Amy Fuller said in a statement .
Associated Press writer Terry Tang contributed to this report.
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